Medical Air Technology (MAT) – with its extensive experience in laboratory and cleanroom construction – was recently brought in as main contractor when The University of Warwick sought to expand its laboratory infrastructure with three new Containment Level 3 (CL3) suites.
Richard Napier, deputy head of the University’s School of Life Sciences, said: “These new labs provide world-class research facilities that will promote better disease control for medicine and agriculture.”
Recognised as among the UK’s leading universities, and home to excellent experimentation and analysis facilities, the University wanted to expand its laboratory infrastructure with the three new CL3 suites – including one with enhanced security measures. The new labs will enable scientists to conduct research into infectious diseases, including those caused by airborne pathogens such as tuberculosis and COVID-19. Medical Air Technology (MAT) was appointed to run the turnkey design and build project.
The university had already decided on a modular platform for the new laboratories, which were to be installed in a land-locked courtyard surrounded by existing ‘live’ labs and students using the site. Having worked on many modular design and build installations, including operating theatres, aseptic suites, and research facilities, MAT says it was ‘in an ideal position to drive the project forward’. It brought in experienced partner and modular specialist, Catfoss, to deliver the shell, designed to its brief.
The modular laboratory modules were largely fitted out off site at Catfoss’s factory before being transported to the university. During the fitting out, MAT was able to complete all groundworks on site before the modules were craned into position for the final installation work.
A Containment Level 3 laboratory is an airtight, gas-tight, leak-proof room that uses specialised airflow design to ensure biocontainment by operating under a negative pressure air regime. This level of containment is required when handling human pathogens transmissable via a number of routes, including inhalation, that often have a low infectious dose to produce effects, and can cause serious or life-threatening disease. The highest containment level in common UK, CL3 requires certain features to be incorporated into the design to ensure appropriate containment.
Making containment laboratories as secure as possible is now an essential part of their design, in accordance with the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 Part 7: Security of Pathogens and Toxins. The new CL3 laboratories at the University of Warwick are a security-enhanced modular build, with all products used in the construction thoroughly tested and shown to provide resistance to experienced attempts at forced entry.