National Graphene Institute

Impressive, architecturally original and functional headquarters of the National Graphene Institute - a research institute in Manchester that deals with research on graphene.


Main contractor:

Façade Scope:

Manchester, England
BAM Construct
J estico + Whiles 
Performing static, full engineering & design, workshop and execution documentation.


Country: UK, England
Location: Manchester 
Purpose: science, education
Main Contractor:  BAM Construct
Architect:  Jestico + Whiles 
Our contribution:  Full engineering & design, workshop and execution documentation
Contract value: £ 2.5M
Complete: 2013-2015

National Graphene Institute is a research facility of University of Manchester, who conducts research on graphene. 
The development of the building in which the institute is situated, begun in 2013 and finished in 2015.  Development of the institute, including the construction works, costed £ 61 million. The building, financed by the UK government (£ 38 million) and the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union (£ 23 million), is the national center of graphene research. The building was opened on March 20, 2015 by the then Chancellor of the Treasury, George Osborne.

The architectural office Jestico + Whiles collaborated with Nobel laureate professor Konstantin Nowoselow, who, together with Andre Geim, isolated graphene for the first time at the University of Manchester in 2004. The 5-storey, compact building with glass façade, provides 7,600 square meters of research area including 1,500 square meters sterile laboratory rooms. The largest laboratory is located on the entire lower ground floor (to minimize vibrations). The ceiling of the room is cleverly sloped around the perimeter, allowing scientists to be seen from the walkway outside the building. 
Inside of the building there are also laser, optical, metrology and chemical laboratories, offices, a seminar room and living space for students and employees. An interesting solution is the roof terrace, which has 21 different species of grasses and flowers planted to attract bees and other species of pollinators. The exterior of the building consists of a composite cladding with an exterior stainless steel "curtain". 
Offices and the laboratories are connected on every floor in order to provide the individual research teams with the facilities needed for coherent operation in one area. 
The Graphene Institute building it is surrounded by an ergonomic inner shell consisting of a composite system of cladding panels, which provides resistance to weather conditions and thermal insulation. Connected to this inner shell is an outer "veil" made of stainless steel, which wraps around the various elements of the building continuously to ensure a uniform texture and a consistent, flowing shape. 
The outer façade consists of hundreds of black mirror stainless steel panels, each containing thousands of perforations that form the equations used in graphene research.

The development started in March 2013 and finished in 2015. The cost of the building was approx. £ 30m and it was built by the Bam Construct. The structural design was developed by the Ramboll company. The design work was managed by EC Harris, together with CH2M Hill, which provided specialized technical architecture design services for rooms and laboratories.

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