Nottingham’s stunning new life sciences building is lit up for the first time

A stunning new life sciences building that harnesses live activity from the surface of the sun has officially opened in Nottingham this week. The £30 million, five-storey BioCity Discovery building, on which Gleeds acted as project and cost manager, will support more than 700 new bioscience roles over the next 30 years and build on the innovative work of existing BioCity tenants.

The building, which is located on a former brownfield site that was cleared and decontaminated by Nottingham City Council, has been designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating in order to reduce its environmental impact. It has also been connected to the district heating system, meaning its energy needs will be met by burning the city’s waste.

Located on Lower Parliament Street, the Discovery building has been adorned with a Brise Soleil art installation named ‘Corona’ – meaning a coloured halo or electrical glow. The installation was designed by Nottingham artist Wolfgang Buttress and uses scientific research conducted by Dr. Martin Bencsik from Nottingham Trent University. The artwork will light up at night and by day act as a sunscreen, making the site more energy efficient.

The piece is linked to two NASA satellites which monitor the surface of the sun for solar flare activity; this energy is expressed through an ever changing fibre optic lighting system which reflects the sun’s activity in real time on the facade of the building. The colours will evolve and transform over a 26 ½ day period – the time it takes the sun to rotate on its axis.

Commenting on the project, Gleeds Director Anthony Cork said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to support Nottingham City Council for the big ‘switch on’ of Wolfgang Buttress’ Brise Soleil light installation. Bio-sciences is a scheme that we believe wholeheartedly embraces community, regeneration and sustainability; showcasing what Nottingham has to offer as a leader in the life sciences sector. We are very proud to have been a part of the development of another building that will attract further regeneration and investment into the Eastside of the city.” 

Construction of the Discovery building was aided by a £6 million contribution from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund (LGF). D2N2 has been allocated approximately £192 million in LGF funding to spend locally over six years (up to 2020) on infrastructure projects which directly promote economic growth and jobs numbers.

Councillor Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “It speaks volumes to Nottingham’s progress that we are able to open not only 50,000 ft² of new lab space, but we have a unique display of what scientific discovery can create from such a renowned artist as Wolfgang.

 “We have been keen to work with BioCity and Wolfgang to develop this building and highlight that we support the growing and innovative life sciences sector and our local artists in Nottingham.”