- Higher Education

Joseph Priestley East Building: Opening the door to a new way of teaching science

University of Huddersfield

Higher Education



Joe Morgan


The University of Huddersfield’s first project through their current consultant framework is this gamechanging extension to the Joseph Priestley Building, which has allowed the University to teach science in a wholly new way. The building would challenge “siloed” approaches to learning and research – both fostering collaboration between students and researchers of different disciplines, and reaching out to local colleges and learning communities.

One of the biggest constraints was the site, which was extremely tight on all sides. This created questions not only of how to construct the building, but also of how to allow access for emergency services when the project was complete.

Approach + Solution

At the heart of our design are two “super-labs”: large laboratories which allow up to 120 students to work side by side. Using AV and acoustic technology, we created spaces which allowed multiple lessons to be taught alongside each other in the same lab – without interference between each other. This approach, combined with opportunities to set up future experiments while current ones are taking place, has had a revolutionary impact on efficiency.

The four-storey building also includes four Class 2 lab facilities, as well as a range of flexible spaces that help bridge the gap between disciplines, allowing researchers to find better solutions by working together. The team rose to the challenge of building on such a constrained site: cranes moved across the site throughout construction, and we designed the curved corner of the building around the turning circle needed for a fire engine to get past.

All in all, the building has set a new bar for laboratory design – allowing the University to teach science in a way that it never has before.