Sir David Attenborough opens world-class Life Sciences building

The pioneering Life Sciences building, our biggest-ever construction project, showcased the best in sustainable design, energy efficiency, and biodiversity conservation – while creating a world-class research and teaching environment.

Britain's best-known natural history film-maker, Sir David Attenborough, officially opened the building in October 2014. He unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion and helped to plant a tree in the newly landscaped gardens.

Work on the pioneering project began in summer 2011, and we welcomed the first intake of students in October 2014. The building, along with its surrounding public realm, represents our biggest and most ambitious project to date, with a total footprint of 13,500m and a budget of £56.6 million.

World-leading research

The building is home to research addressing some of the key challenges of the 21st century, and facilitates an exciting interdisciplinary approach.

A five-storey lab wing holds acoustic chambers for bat research, an insectarium, labs for studying ant and bee behaviour, plus spectroscopy and microscope rooms. Here, biologists join forces with chemists, computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians and earth scientists to establish how lessons learned from nature can benefit society.

To reflect the research out inside, the exterior of the building is home to a striking vertical garden, known as a living wall, which stands over 20 metres above street level. It's home to 11 different species of plant, as well as boxes for birds and bats, and creates the pattern of a microscope image of algal cells.

A state of the art greenhouse, known as a GroDome, sits on top of the building and is capable of recreating tropical conditions through controlled light, humidity and temperature.

Embedding sustainable design features throughout

Inside, the building showcases the very best in sustainable design and energy efficiency: heat from the labs' ventilation systems is reclaimed and re-used, rainwater collected from the roof is used to flush the toilets, blinds lower automatically when the sun shines, and lighting has been designed to avoid pollution of the night sky.

Cutting edge teaching labs

One of the largest teaching labs in the UK, capable of hosting 200 students in a highly flexible space, facilitates research-led study and staff-student interaction, enhancing our undergraduates' experience.

Key achievement

The Life Sciences building demonstrates how our sustainability goals go hand-in-hand with our position as world leaders in research and teaching.

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