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Chemistry Laboratories


Durham University


Client – Durham University

Architect – PH Partnership

Completion – February 2014

Value - £460,000

The work consisted of the remodelling of the live Chemistry Building to create an Integrated Chemical Reaction Facility (ICRF). The unique purpose-built new facility provides a high pressure laboratory to house complex chemical process reactor systems and associated analytical instruments.

The refurbishment of the existing laboratories involved many specialist trades, including the installation of new fume cupboards, the installation of extractor systems to create a negative pressure environment, the installation of high pressure and specialist piped gases, etc.


In addition to the works to the existing labs, we built a new Blast Cell. The cast insitu reinforced concrete cell allows for the safe operation of high pressure vessels up to 5 L / 300 bar.

The works were planned and managed to ensure that the noise and dust were minimised to enabling the surrounding research and teaching facilities to be used during the works. Due to the sites land locked/tight location, cranage for the roof top plant and other major workface deliveries had to be pre-arranged, planned and co-ordinated with the University to maintain the safety of staff & students and to ensure that we did not affect other operations on and around the site.

The project was successfully completed with minimal disruption to the department, staff & students. Our philosophy of understanding and working around the client’s needs certainly helped on this live site and enabled ourselves and the University to function alongside each other. The project further expanded our knowledge in the specialist laboratory field. We have since gone on and completed on similar complex research facility projects for Durham & Newcastle Universities.










The new ICRF laboratory & facilities has been welcomed by the staff & students who are now safely able to use highly reactive/toxic gases, with state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation. The new state of the art facility has given Durham University a world-class laboratory for the development and exploitation of interdisciplinary sustainable, efficient chemical reactions and energy-related research projects.