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Modular build to replace fire-damaged St Andrews labs

10 July 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

An artist's impression of the temporary modular building

A £9m set of purpose-built modular buildings will temporarily replace fire- and water-damaged research labs at the University of St Andrews’ Biomedical Sciences building, following a blaze earlier this year.

Fire ripped through two labs at the building on the university’s North Haugh campus on 10 February. While the building’s compartment design restricted the spread of the blaze, water used to extinguish the fire caused extensive damage to all areas of the research facility.

Since then, the university has been working with modular building firm Portakabin to develop temporary laboratories on North Haugh to allow research work to continue during a lengthy operation to recover the original building.

The specialist modular units are built by Portakabin at their factory in York. Installation of the new facilities will begin mid-July with construction and specialist internal fit out works due for completion by mid-October.

A total of 44 Portakabin modular units will be delivered to the site from York over five days later this month. They will fit together to create a specialist laboratory complex.

Professor Tom Brown, dean of science at the University said: “The fire at the Biomedical Sciences building was devastating to not only the researchers, students and staff here in St Andrews, but was also felt across the whole scientific community.”

“The construction of the temporary lab facilities ensures that the ground-breaking research carried out within BMS continues and lets the world know that we are open for business, delivering results of real global significance.”

Nick Griffin, general manager for Portakabin said: “Having already delivered exceptional laboratory facilities for the University of Oxford last year, we’re now able to share our expert knowledge with another exceptional learning institution. The installation of the high specification space will be set over a two-storey academic laboratory block, providing teaching and research space for the start of the new academic year.”

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