Building type:




Project Status:


Gross Area:

7600 Sqm


BREEAM New Construction 2011 (UK) Very Good

Climatic zone:



Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 0 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 1 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 2 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 3 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 4 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 5 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 6 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 7 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 8 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 9 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 10 © Hufton + Crow
Thumbnail National Graphene Institute / 11 © Hufton + Crow


Jestico + Whiles was appointed lead architect for the new National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester in 2012, working closely with Sir Kostya Novoselov – who, along with Sir Andre Geim, first isolated graphene at the university in 2004.

Our design delivers a world-leading research and incubator centre which is dedicated to the development of graphene and will be an essential component in the UK’s bid to remain at the forefront of the commercialisation of this pioneering and revolutionary material.

Located in the University Campus’ Science Quarter, the National Graphene Institute is housed in a compact 7,600m2 five-storey building, with the main cleanroom located on the lower ground floor to achieve best vibration performance. The ceiling of the clean room is cleverly angled all the way around the outside of the building so that from the pavement, the cleanroom and scientists are visible to the public.

The building also includes a second cleanroom in addition to laser, optical, metrology and chemical laboratories, offices and ancillary accommodation such as a seminar room that opens out on to a roof terrace with a bio-diverse roof garden.

Offices and labs are intermixed on all floors to offer individual research teams the facilities needed to operate coherently in one area. These teams are expected to include industry partners that will collaborate on research with the University.

The building is enclosed by an economic inner skin comprising a proprietary composite cladding panel system that provides weather tightness and thermal insulation and accommodates flush windows and other openings as required. Fixed to the outside of this inner skin is a separate perforated stainless steel ‘veil’ which wraps around the volumes of the disparate elements of the building continuously to provide a unifying texture and coherent, fluid shape.

The ‘veil’ is made of hundreds of black mirror stainless steel panels, each one containing thousands of perforations that make up the equations used in graphene research.

The National Graphene Institute was recently named winner of the RIBA NORTH WEST AWARD 2016


2013 BD Education Architect of the Year Award (6th Form to University)

2015 BCI Awards (Major Building Project of the Year)

2015 BCI Awards (BIM Project Application of the Year)

2015 RIBAJ Schueco Excellence Awards (Award for Design & Innovation)

2015 Blueprint Awards (Shortlist)

2013 BD Education Architect of the Year Award (6th Form to University)



Natural ventilation

Innovative cooling system

Shading system

High efficient façade


Rainwater harvesting

Sustainable building materials

Low-emitting materials and finishes

High efficient lighting

Daylight sensors

Smart design (passive design strategies)

Daylighting maximised

Sustainable transport


As agreed with Manchester City Council during pre-application consultations, the scheme has been designed to achieve a BREEAM rating of Very Good. In addition, the University set a target of 65% for the scheme, 10% higher than the minimum threshold for Very Good.

In terms of energy use, the operational consumption over the lifetime of the building is the principal consideration for this building type. The design responds to this key sustainability consideration by employing an efficient building form and organisation, a highly insulated building envelope, highly efficient mechanical and electrical systems and on-site renewable energy sources.

In order to meet the strict environmental conditions required to carry out scientific research at the nanoscale, the cleanrooms and laboratories need to be air conditioned with high air change rates and filtration. The plant areas which are required to provide this cooling and ventilation are housed within the multi-level Central Utility Building (CUB) on the west side of the building. This stacked arrangement of plant not only reduces the impact of plant vibration on the research space, but is also an energy efficient arrangement which reduces duct and cable runs between equipment. The cleanrooms and laboratories are located adjacent to the CUB on each level, with the offices, the most lightly serviced areas of the building, arranged along the east façade, furthest away from the CUB.

The offices are naturally ventilated with openable windows and no reliance on backup mechanical ventilation systems. Radiators in the individual offices also assist with giving occupiers control of their own environment. Exposed concrete soffits in the offices and laboratories provide thermal mass and reduce diurnal temperature variations. The breakout space makes use of the stack effect to naturally ventilate, with large low-level automatically opening windows to draw fresh air in, and high level vents for releasing warmer air through the rooflight.

Good daylight and view is provided to all offices, with daylight or borrowed light to laboratories where appropriate in accordance with the specific research activities to be carried out in each room. Low energy lighting has been used throughout, with motion sensors in the communal areas to limit power use during times of low occupation.

Target U-Values set out during the design stages have been met through a highly insulated and airtight building envelope - values of 0.15W/m2K, 0.17/m2K, 0.06/m2K and 1.44W/m2K through the roof, walls, floor and windows respectively have been achieved by the completed design. The perforated metal cladding provides solar shading to the south and east facing laboratories and offices, helping to prevent excessive solar gain in the offices and reducing the load on the air conditioning systems in the labs.

20% of the electrical load is provided by on-site renewable energy sources. This includes a gas fired combined heat & power engine located in the CUB and photovoltaic panels located on the roof of the 3rd floor seminar room and laboratories. In addition, the design caters for the future integration into a campus District Heating System which is under development by the University.

Low water consumption has also been included. A rainwater harvesting tank located in the CUB captures and re-uses rainwater collected from the roof. Low water consumption sanitary appliances were specified. An attenuation tank located underground to the west of the site adjacent to Crawford House will delay the release of rainwater to the mains drainage system, therefore relieving pressure on this utility during stormwater conditions. A biodiverse / green roof is provided on the 3rd floor terrace which has matured into a thriving bio-diverse mini-ecosystem since being installed last year.

In line with the University’s Sustainable Travel Plan 2012-2015 the scheme reduces the reliance on car usage by encouraging staff and visitors to walk, jog or cycle to the facility. An extension to the existing lockable cycle store to the south of the new building provides 20 no. secure, covered cycle parking spaces. Showers and lockers are located at 1st floor level for the use of walkers, joggers and cyclists. In order to discourage journeys by car, no additional car parking was provided as part of the new development. Staff needing to travel by car will be able to apply for a parking permit in order to use one of the existing car parks on campus.

The building achieved BREEAM very good rating with final score of 65.80%.


● Low and zero carbon technologies, such as making use of waste heat from other University processes to heat and cool through an absorption chiller
● The use of sustainably sourced and manufactured materials
● Thermal modelling, thermographic survey and seasonal commissioning to reduce overheating, thermal bridging and efficient plant operation
● Maximised natural daylight to reduce need for artificial lighting
● High efficiency T5 fluorescent lamps and LEDs controlled by absence detection and daylight sensors
● Energy efficient lifts featuring standby mode, variable speed and LED lighting
● Enhanced acoustics to improve comfort and remove external noise
● Sub-metering of plant and systems to maximise energy monitoring and reductions.
● Intelligent water metering to identify leaks
● Rainwater harvesting to minimise mains water requirements
● Excellent access to public transport
● Enhanced biodiversity for planting and wildlife through the use of bird boxes, a green roof, off-site planting and a five-year habitat management plan.


Energy consumption:

120.61 KW/m² (38.233 KBtu/ft²)

Consumption type:


Annual carbon footprint:

N/A (N/A )

Climate zone:


Min. temperature =


Max temperature =


RH =



No product info available



University of Manchester



Jestico + Whiles


Jestico + Whiles , CH2M


Acoustical consultant:

Ramboll UK

Building services engineer:


Cost consultant:

EC Harris

Energy consultant:


Green certification consultant:

Arcadis LLP


EC Harris

Specialist consultant:

Keelagher Okey Klein , HCD

Structural Engineer:

Ramboll UK



BAM Construct


No other project by team



Norwich, Norwich, Norfolk, UK | 2012


Sheppard Robson | Ramboll UK

Educational | BREEAM 2008 UK Education

Thumbnail Ashmount Primary School

Crouch End, London N8, UK | 2013

Ashmount Primary School

Penoyre & Prasad LLP | Ramboll UK

Educational | BREEAM 2008 UK Education

Thumbnail Busta Primary School

Montebelluna Treviso, Italy | 2013

Busta Primary School

FontanAtelier | FONTANAtelier

Educational | LEED v3 BD+C (Schools)

Thumbnail Saint-Gobain Habitat LAB

Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy | 2012

Saint-Gobain Habitat LAB

Saint-Gobain Habitat Italia

Educational | LEED v3 BD+C (NC) Italia

Thumbnail Reid Building

Glasgow, UK | 2014

Reid Building

Steven Holl Architects

Educational | BREEAM New Construction 2011 (UK)

Thumbnail  Scuola  Primaria P. Racagni

Via Renzo Ildebrando Bocchi, 33, 43126 Parma PR, Italia | 2012

Scuola Primaria P. Racagni

ViTre Studio | GreeningLab Specialist in Green Building

Educational | LEED v3 BD+C (New Construction)