5 Design Considerations for New Laboratories

September 29th 2015

While every laboratory is different, there are a few important design principles common to each. Here we take a look at 5 of the most important for a successful working space.

1. Flexibility

It can be tempting to design a commercial lab which is solely focussed on the primary task of the research team. However, this can lead to an inflexible lab which will not accommodate new projects. If the primary task is concluded swiftly, the new lab may not be suitable for upcoming projects – rendering the whole space completely redundant.

Additionally, a flexible lab can attract external research teams to use the laboratory – potentially increasing the value of the space. Furthermore, investors may be more inclined to entrust your research team with funding if they have a flexible and adaptable lab environment in which to work.

2. The Environment

Over the past decade, there has been a huge push to ensure that all commercial laboratories and research spaces are as environmentally friendly as possible. This has led to many of the world’s largest research teams appointing professionals responsible for maintaining the laboratory’s green credentials.

Harvard University even has its own sizeable ‘Green Team’ to help develop more environmentally-friendly practices throughout everything that their research labs and teams produce.

3. Safety

It is important to go above and beyond safety considerations when implementing a new laboratory design. Rather than simply just adding the bare minimum requirements to the space, it is vital to ensure that safety is sewn into every aspect of the lab design – making it simpler for every member of the lab team to complete tasks safely and effectively.

From creating clear lines of evacuation to fully labelling all chemicals and pieces of equipment, a comprehensive and well-rounded approach to safety can significantly reduce the chance that any accidents or incidents may occur.

4. Lighting

Allowing as much natural light into the laboratory as possible ensures complete clarity during research and can have far-reaching wellness benefits for the research team. Natural light can promote wellness and provide a wide range of health benefits. Creating a positive environment can help the research team think with greater clarity.   

Specialist commercial lab design team, InterFocus, stress the importance of creating a healthy environment: “There are a wide range of different environmental factors which need to be considered to ensure the researchers have the best possible space in which to work. Creating well-lit environments with clear lines of movement and communication can help accommodate optimised workloads.”

5. Long-Term Consideration

In a similar vein to the first point, it is vital that long-term planning is taken into consideration when designing and creating a commercial laboratory. Restricting the lab to one function and purpose can severely inhibit future projects and research. Designing the lab in line with a 10 year plan can help increase the long-term value of the space.

Failing to plan for the long-term could make it more difficult to adapt to an evolving scientific landscape as breakthroughs are made and new technologies/methodologies are developed.

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