With its distinctive triangular design, ONE BioHub is the iconic new home for life sciences entrepreneurs and innovators bringing new treatments, therapies and technology to market.
The 69,000-square-foot innovation hub is a centre for life sciences commercialisation and a catalyst for doubling the number of companies in the north east's industry cluster by 2027 and creating new, high-skill jobs.
Christoph Ackermann, architect principal in the Glasgow office of BDP, led the multidisciplinary design team and described the new building as "exciting and transformational.”
"When we visited the site for the first time, it was overgrown and inaccessible – unkempt, unloved and literally shoulder high in weeds – but you could tell that there was something special about it," he says.
"The topography is challenging because it's on a hill, but at the same time, you have the fantastic opportunity of building something immediately apparent as you enter the Foresterhill Health Campus, with incredible views over Aberdeen to the North Sea."
Christoph points out that the visually striking design of the building was a logical response to the site constraints.
"When you look at the site, you can see that it is triangular as it gets cut in half by the burn. This supported our concept to group all the services in the centre of the building and the accommodation around the perimeter with great views and daylight, which is important for a workplace."
ONE BioHub provides incubator laboratory and office space for lease, ready for tenants to move in, and customisable grow-on space on its upper floors. The double-height south-facing ground floor provides collaborative workspaces and break-out rooms with conferencing facilities. A café with adjacent external terracing and landscaping completes the layout.”
"It's interesting because a development like this could comprise two buildings," says Christoph. "There would be a commercial research facility and a separate industry collaborative space. But with ONE BioHub, we combined the two functions in a single building which increases the opportunity for collaboration. The site and the location on the Foresterhill Health Campus are unique."
ONE BioHub enables spinouts and start-ups to move out of the university or NHS and co-locate in an ecosystem and environment which supports them to commercialise their research. Christoph points out that the building is designed to optimise networking and collaboration.
"There are two vital parts of the building. One is the labs and workspaces with its shared facilities, and the other is the collaborative space on the ground floor as you enter the building.
The ground floor social space is something we're proud of. It's something you normally have in larger scale buildings, providing informal social spaces where people can touchdown, have a cup of coffee, an informal conversation and exchange ideas that could lead to something amazing."
As an incubator building, ONE BioHub needs to be able to adapt to the tenants' specific needs. One floor has been partially fitted out, ready for early-stage businesses to move into.
"We also have two floors that are purely shell and core, which tenants can have fitted out to their specific requirements."
One of the fascinating aspects of the project was witnessing the defining moments as ONE BioHub progressed from being a compelling idea to a stunning building.
"The key moment for us was when the steelwork was erected. That's when you got a real sense of the building's scale and presence. We knew it worked at that moment, and it was something special. The client and our team got very excited."
Sustainability was a priority and meticulously considered throughout the entire design and development of ONE BioHub.
"The building itself has a fabric-first approach which means that the envelope and the thermal insulation of the envelope exceed the current standards. The use of air-source heat pumps on the roof supports this approach.
"We are generating renewables onsite so that the building is ready for net zero in use, which is a fantastic result. ONE BioHub epitomises and leads Aberdeen's transition from oil and gas to a more sustainable future. That was part of the original vision and the mission statement."
ONE BioHub has a digital twin, which is a virtual replica of the physical facility.
"We have the physical presence of ONE BioHub and a digital version of it with 28,000 components. The design team worked hard to create this before the contractor built the physical project.
That model exists, and the client has use of it. It allows future tenants and the building owner to add additional information to all these building components, a virtual twin of it, which will help to manage the building in the future."
Christoph looks forward to seeing ONE BioHub in full use.
"That's when you see the building and the design fulfil the client's brief as an enabler for the life sciences sector. The vision of this building is to bring people together because that's when innovation happens."
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