New facilities designed for 21st century science

A new teaching and research facility for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences has been formally handed over to the University by construction company BAM.

The Sir William Henry Bragg Building creates an engineering and physical sciences hub

The handover represents a significant milestone. Work on the project started four years ago and the focus now shifts to fitting out the interior, with a scheduled autumn opening date.

Named after Sir William Henry Bragg, a former professor at Leeds who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915, the new facility will bring together the School of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Computing, creating an engineering and physical sciences hub on the north-east corner of campus. 

Meeting the needs of modern research

The basement of the Bragg building will house sensitive equipment, including some of the most advanced electron microscope technology in the UK for fabricating and investigating new materials. It has been designed so that vibration from passing traffic doesn’t interfere with ultra-sensitive laboratory instruments.

Sir William Henry Bragg Building handover. March 2021

One of the new labs, designed for 21st century science

Leeds is a founding partner of the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, and the Institute’s work at Leeds will be co-located in the building with the Bragg Centre for Materials Research. Work will focus on manipulating and developing materials at the scale of individual atoms. 

Professor Edmund Linfield, Director of the Bragg Centre for Materials Research, said: “The superb facilities in the Bragg building will allow us to engineer materials at the atomic and molecular scale, and undertake internationally-leading science and engineering. It will also allow us to strengthen further our extensive interaction with academia and industry and build new research partnerships.

“It creates an exciting space for undergraduates to learn and for postgraduates to start their research careers.”

The basement of the Bragg building will also be home to the Wolfson Imaging Facility, where state-of-the-art instrumentation will enable scientists to see molecules interacting in real time.

Sir William Henry Bragg Building handover. March 2021

Impressive lighting inside the Bragg building

A space to collaborate

Professor Nora de Leeuw, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “Experience tells us that the big questions in science will only be tackled when researchers from different disciplines collaborate on solving problems. From the outset, that has been at the heart of the design brief for the new Bragg building. The building is a place for people to collaborate.

“Sir William Henry Bragg’s work has shaped modern science. And it is my firm belief the research that will be conducted in the building that takes his name will extend that legacy.”

Accelerating innovation

The Robotics at Leeds research group will have access to a mock medical operating theatre to develop robotic systems for medicine and healthcare.

Director, Professor Pietro Valdastri, said: “Having access to a realistic clinical environment will allow researchers to evaluate how clinical staff interact with robotic platforms. This will help us get our ideas and inventions working in the real world much more quickly.”

Sir William Henry Bragg Building handover. March 2021

One of the Bragg building stairwells

Leeds will be looking at ways to open the facilities to industry, to help quicken the pace of innovation.

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “The University is investing in high-quality student facilities and world-class research capability, which will allow Leeds to continue to play an important role in strengthening the UK’s economic and industrial future.”

David Oldroyd, Senior Project Manager in our estate and facilities team, has overseen construction. He said: “This is the largest single project that the University has undertaken since the 1970s, and the result is stunning.

“The building is a testament to the University’s investment in its research capability for decades to come. It creates a vibrant and collaborative space for academics and students to share knowledge and experience.”

Sir William Henry Bragg Building handover. March 2021

The Worlds of If, a sculpture by artist Sara Barker, provides a striking link between the old and the new parts of the building

The Sir William Henry Bragg Building incorporates the old School of Mining, which was built in 1930. The Portland stone façade of the Grade II listed structure has been retained, but behind it the space has been remodelled and a walkway connects with a new seven-storey glass-and-steel complex, with teaching rooms and laboratories designed to meet the rigours of 21st century science.

The building has also received an ‘Excellent’ grading from the independent assessor BREEAM for its sustainability.

Posted in: