Designed by BMJ Architects, the Discovery Centre is an annexe of the School of Life Sciences and consists of 4,530 m2 of laboratories and associated office and meeting space over four storeys. Construction began in July 2012 and the building populated in July 2014 with the official opening ceremony on 1st October 2014.
To facilitate interactions between scientists from different disciplines and research groups a key part of the brief for the building was to increase the spaces for collaboration. A new enclosed atrium ‘Street’ was created between the Discovery Centre and the existing School of Life Sciences complex as a place for meeting, collaboration and networking. It incorporates a café, informal breakout spaces and digital screens for data streaming.
On the first floor the drug discovery robotics facility was designed to be a fully flexible laboratory for high through put experiments and visible to the Street for public engagement.
On the second floor an open plan, high quality ‘dry’ laboratory was created for Computational Biology to maximize collaboration between the different research groups and cope with the large data handling requirements of these disciplines.
On the mezzanine floor, a 900 m2 areas was designed to house the Laboratory for Quantitative Proteomics integrating expertise in cell biology, mass spectrometry, proteomics, "big-data" analytics and computer science.
Lastly, a central component of the design of the Discovery Centre was the incorporation of artwork in the both the facade of the building and through the creation of LifeSpace, a new Science Art Research gallery. The façade of the building is graced with an artwork entitled ‘Scales of Life’ that depicts on custom-made anodised aluminium panels, both the scientific basis for life and the significant research into life science undertaken within its walls. The project was a collaboration between artist Elaine Shemilt from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Mike Ferguson, Regius Professor of Life Sciences, and Jo White of BMJ architects. Scientific research at the level of each of the four physical scales - Molecular, Organellar, Cellular and Tissue – provides both basic understanding and informs the treatment of many diseases. The aim of this science-art collaboration was to create a unique work as part of the architecture of the building that communicated to the general public the key areas of life sciences research, particularly those carried out in Dundee.
The creation of the LifeSpace gallery is an exciting new addition to the School of Life Sciences complex. Curated by Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD), the gallery will promote arts and science collaboration and host international exhibitions and work by local artists.
Further information about the art-science collaboration projects and architectural features of the Discovery Centre can be found in the sidebar to the right.