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Gilberts Kits Out “World Class” Research Facility

How do you balance the ventilation requirements of a four-storey, 7500+m2 “winged” research facility, where internal spaces range from a three-storey high atrium to wet and dry teaching spaces accommodating 60- 280 students?


You utilise the flexibility of louvre screens from Gilberts Blackpool. Integrating seamlessly with the façade, the louvres ensure a continuous fresh airflow for the building and its plant, with the flexibility to address future needs internally.

Now, the University of Reading’s new £55m Health & Life Sciences Building incorporates Gilberts WGK75 standard kitform and WHC75 high performance louvres, creating screens up to 49.8m x 2.4m. As appropriate, acoustic attenuation and ventilation dampers and access doors have been added to provide the appropriate balancing of external factors that could influence the internal environment.

The building forms part of the University’s £200m capital investment programme. It replaces several buildings across the campus into one, future-proof Centre that the University claims will be a “world class” research facility comprising wet and dry research laboratories, teaching spaces, offices, a café and central atrium.

“The diversity of internal use, the desire for that space to be future-resilient, and the external design aesthetics meant we had a complex brief to answer,” explained Gilberts’ contracts supervisor Rob Wardle. “The ground floor and some first floor panels, for example, varied from 1.3m wide to 2.3m wide. The fourth floor, where most of the plant is located, required screens that in on one elevation alone were almost 50m x 2.5m, and 15m x 5.5m. The louvre sections on each elevation and the rooftop varied too.

“It was very detailed, hence why the main contractor Balfour Beatty wanted to use a manufacturer that had the capability and flexibility to fabricate as accurately as possible what was required, and had installers that could be relied upon to deal with precise cutting to suit on site. That complete package approach was just what was needed!”

Gilberts’ range of kitform and factory-assembled louvres are just part of its range of solutions that have established it as the UK’s no 1 independent commercial air movement supplier. Family owned, the company has a 60 year heritage of innovation, operating from a 95,000 sq ft facility in the Northern Powerhouse of Lancashire.

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