Being developed at the Heriot-Watt University (HWU) main Edinburgh campus, the new National Robotarium, a partnership between HWU and the University of Edinburgh, comprises a world-leading centre for robotics and artificial intelligence.
The new building, extending to some 4,400m² combines the HWU engineering heritage and strengths in robotics for hazardous environments, manufacturing, healthcare and human-robot interaction with the University of Edinburgh expertise in space, construction and humanoid robotics.
Funded by the City Regional Deal, the new facility supports the Deal’s overarching objective of accelerating growth by attracting inward investment and talent, and satisfy the vision to be ‘the UK’s leading innovation Hub for the practical application of robotics and autonomous systems’.
Developed around a central ‘Forum’ space, the building accommodates a diverse group of robotic research streams, which in turn has invited a concentrated and intensive briefing process by the design team to ensure that the spaces and the associated MEP services meet their needs not only at day one, but recognises the flexibility and agility required in the building to support future pivotal changes in research direction.
Hulley & Kirkwood worked closely with the design team, estates services and university academics to develop a low-carbon strategy for the new facility that responds to the university's aspirations and wider national net-zero requirements, all in reaction to the Climate Emergency. This all electric building utilises high efficiency heat-pumps to satisfy heating and cooling demands, recognising the current and anticipated electrical grid decarbonisation.
The new building is characterised by a sophisticated front elevation that articulates the approach to the facility and acts as an intelligent façade. Comprising a double-skin construction, the elevation seeks to control solar gain with an automatically ventilated cavity that collects and disperses the heat (modified Trombe wall). Active lighting and image projection further enhance the principal elevation.
‘National’ centre of excellence.
Net zero ready.
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Highly Commended for Architectural Excellence (Public Use) at the Scottish Property Awards 2023.
Project of the Year at the Learning Places Scotland Awards 2023.