The exterior of the Institute of Genetics and Cancer at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital.

Institute of Genetics and Cancer (IGC), Edinburgh


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University of Edinburgh
April 2024
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Expanding University of Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital Campus to research cancer

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute of Genetics and Cancer can now investigate cancers and other health conditions in greater depth and detail than ever before thanks to a new medicine facility extension delivered by Robertson.

The five-storey building connects to the existing SMED (Systems Medicine) building and provides a much-needed extension to the existing Centre for Genomic & Experimental Medicine (CGEM).

The new building extension houses specialist facilities that allow the function of cells to be investigated in extraordinary detail, creating complex data, analysed using artificial intelligence.

Unlocking these medical secrets will transform the way that cancers and other diseases are treated and cured.

1,945 m²


22.70 m

high building

Understanding our customer's needs

The strong relationship we have forged with the University of Edinburgh meant that we were able to have invaluable conversations about what they wanted from their building, giving us the opportunity to advise them at the very start of the project.

Through these early in-depth discussions, it became clear that a concrete frame was needed for this project. Due to the delicate nature of the research being carried out within the building, it was vital that vibrations once in use could be minimised. It was also important to limit noise generated during the construction, which also favoured concrete over other materials. This led us to choosing a concrete frame which was not most inexpensive material or quickest to construct, but was the right choice for our customer.

Bespoke brickwork and a creative solution

It was crucial for our University of Edinburgh that the extension gave a consistent and seamless appearance to the exterior of the building. But there was a problem – the bricks used for the initial build had stopped being manufactured.

Understanding how important this was, we pulled out all the stops and successfully arranged for these bespoke bricks to be custom built.

A further challenge was that to meet our customer’s timescales, the bricks had to be laid during winter – the worst possible time of year. Cold temperatures can affect the mortar and freeze the mix used to lay bricks.

There was a particularly cold spell of weather at this critical stage, with a minus seven-degree Scottish climate during this period. This put the whole project timeline at risk, but we arranged for the area to be enclosed in a wrap which protected the bricks from the elements and allowed us to heat internally and manage the temperature. 

This meant that the tailor-made bricks set without any delays and the consistent look throughout the building was achieved, to the delight of our customer.

A successful partnership

By developing a valuable and successful partnership with the University of Edinburgh, we have been trusted to help our world-class global customer to achieve their ambitious estates vision.

We have delivered several multi-million-pound upgrades and new build developments for the university.

Among the many impressive university building projects we have delivered is the famous Darwin Building, where we carried out significant enabling works before refurbishing the facility which was constructed in the 1960s. 

We also converted their Lister Learning & Teaching Centre into a modern and vibrant educational space, and constructed the university’s Large Animal Research & Imaging Facility (LARIF) facility.

We have created a new four-storey base for Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA), refurbishing a former police training school on Chambers Street, delivered the Advanced Computer Facility (ACF) at Easterbush, upgraded the QMRI Radiochemistry Suite, and dramatically improved access and capacity at the university's Clinical Research Imaging Centre.

Our partnership with the University of Edinburgh has been built on many years of trust. We have been relied upon to deliver what we have promised and the repeat business we have received from our important partner is testament to the quality of our work.