Darwin Enabling Works


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The University of Edinburgh
October 2018
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Evolution of biology teaching and research facilities

Robertson has carried out enabling and extension works at The University of Edinburgh’s King’s Buildings campus. This will pave the way for further refurbishment around The Darwin Building, which will undergo evolution to create world-class research and teaching facilities.

Building new biology research and teaching facilities

The original Darwin Building, part of the School of Biological Sciences, is a 10-storey tower block within The University of Edinburgh's King's Buildings campus. It was originally built in the 1960s.

The enabling works and extension form parted of the university's strategic project, 'Building a New Biology'. This will grow the research and teaching capacity, quality and outputs to support intellectual discovery and generate health, social and economic benefits.

After our enabling works are complete, the Darwin Building was refurbished and re-clad to provide world-class research and teaching space for students and staff.

Enabling and extension works

To facilitate the project, we assisted the university with financial analysis and recommendations that allowed additional funding to be claimed.

As part of the project, we carried out demolition of an existing two-storey Darwin Library Building plus various out-buildings. In addition, we created an access haul road and diverted mechanical and electrical services, and underground utilities services.

Robertson Central East also built a three-storey extension to the university's C H Waddington Building and a new two-storey mechanical and electrical plant building.

Throughout the project, Robertson has worked with the university on additional requirements, including dealing with unknown services under the ground and resolving the challenges of working within a live university environment.

The University of Edinburgh is committed to developing low carbon buildings. Sustainability features included at the C H Waddington Building extension include:

  • connection to the university's combined heat and power (CHP) network;
  • low-energy lighting and intelligent ventilation systems;
  • exceptional levels of thermal insulation to ensure efficient environmental control;
  • high-quality materials with a long lifecycle and high recycled content;
  • BREEAM Excellent rating.

Team Robertson delivers civil engineering as part of enabling works

Robertson Central East worked closely with colleagues at Robertson Civil Engineering to deliver these enabling works. That in-house partnership forms part of the reason Robertson was successful in winning this high-profile contract.

The enabling package involved:

  • construction of a haul road for future building works;
  • installation of deep foul and storm drainage systems;
  • installation of over 200m of CHP network;
  • construction of all infrastructure to support a four storey building including roads and car park.

Paving the way for state-of-the-art facilities

Robertson's enabling and extension works pave the way for the university's vision for further development at King's Buildings, which will centre on the 10-storey Darwin building. This can now be re-engineered to improve appearance and sustainability, and double its capacity providing laboratories for up to 350 researchers.