Reckitt Benckiser opened the doors to its new £105m Science and Innovation Centre in Hull in December 2019 and the Center is now home to 49% of RB’s global R&D workforce. The new Laboratory (GMP) building is an L-shaped three-story building and features 13,000 sqm of laboratories, dedicated to research, development and ‘scaled-down’ production.
The design, specification, performance and aesthetic of the laboratory furniture were of the highest importance to RB when considering the specialist fit-out of the GMP building. As the building is solely dedicated to the future research, development, testing and manufacturing capabilities of RB, the key theme of end-user engagement was considered a vital approach to ensure the expertise of RB staff could contribute to the design of the laboratories. To facilitate this, it was recognised that the furniture and fume cupboard manufacturer should be appointed early on in the design process. After extensive market research, S+B UK was selected. This allowed us to collaborate and coordinate with both RB staff and key consultants such as the project architect, M&E contract and main contractor. To ensure the practical and functional requirements of the laboratories were realised, a number of collaborative meetings were arranged, both on-site and at S+B HQ to explore the furniture specifications available.
A key theme across the project, from the servicing of the project as a whole, through to the design of the laboratory furniture within each area, was ensuring the creation of a dynamic and adaptable working environment. Across all laboratories, a consistent approach to the furniture system was applied. This ensures cross-laboratory adaptability through the deployment of fixed, mobile and adaptable furniture solutions.
One challenge identified during the design phase was how to build flexibility into a fixed furniture system. Though mobility was considered important to deliver an adaptable environment, the regular daily use of dry powders within many areas,
highlighted the need for fixed work surfaces, removing any gaps between benches and ensuring ease of clean down to deliver flexibility within the fixed furniture sections, the ‘Exemplaire’ C-frame system was selected.
Another key requirement was to create a clean and easily maintainable laboratory environment, this was particularly important in the larger laboratories such as the Analytical lab, where up to 180 research staff could be working. The ‘Exemplaire’ C-
frame is supplied with a full length, polypropylene floor seal, removing the dirt trap typically found with threaded rod feet. This solution, combined with suspended storage units and Trespa Toplab PLUS worksurfaces, has removed the opportunity for unwanted material to build up in typically hard to reach areas, therefore ensuring ongoing ease of maintenance.
Throughout all laboratory areas, IPS stations with sensor-activated water taps, emergency eyewash and drench showers have been installed. In a number of laboratories, free moving storage and workstations have been provided for the transportation and distribution of powders, capsules and tablets.
In a number of areas, ‘bespoke’ furniture systems had to be designed to cater to the specific needs of particular departments.
As part of RB’s commitment to continually reduce emissions while growing the business, The S+B Ecoline, low-velocity fume cupboard was chosen for the project. The fume cupboards are designed to perform at face velocities of below 0.5m/sec without compromising performance or operator protection. The new generation Ecoline ‘solid wall’ fume cupboard was chosen for its space efficiency, ergonomics, durability, ease and low cost of maintenance, compared to traditional ‘hollow wall’ designs. The additional benefits are provided whilst at the same time optimising the primary function of operator protection. The internal geometry combined with an aerodynamic fascia and unique side stiles ensure excellent fume containment capability in operational conditions and proven when tested in accordance with the full range of EN14175 protocols.