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View: Grid List
Higher Education Workplace
£5m - £20m
WMG, University of Warwick
BREEAM: Excellent
Robin Nicholson
Jacobs, Arup, Hoare Lea, Churchman, Norwest Holst Ltd
Built In Quality Awards Commercial Category Winner (2009) Coventry Design Awards - Sustainable Design Award (2009) ISE Award for Best Public Sector Building (2009) Coventry Design Awards - People’s Choice Award (2009)
CIBSE Journal (2012)

The International Digital Laboratory (IDL) is a state-of-the-art building that provides an innovative environment for collaborative research, demonstrators, knowledge transfer and training.

International Digital Laboratory

The IDL sits opposite the Manufacturing Centre (we completed in 1993) and adjacent the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation (we completed in 2012). The WMG works here with a number of partners enabling strategic change in industry, service and healthcare sectors. 

The building is required to act as a showcase for the innovative research taking place within. Openness and transparency is important in showing off the activities to visitors and investors, whilst in contrast a level of security for research data needs to be maintained.  

As the future of digital technologies is unknown, the IDL is designed to achieve maximum flexibility of internal spaces to allow for changing patterns in research. The first floor concourse acts as a gallery for the many activities taking place within the building, as well as allowing staff, students and visitors to gather, work and relax in informal meeting areas.

The IDL is a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ building, despite being on a green-field site.


The International Digital Laboratory was an important first for the University in calling for a key new building to be BREEAM Excellent despite their being no standard BREEAM model for Higher Education. 

It was also a first for us. With over 40 years of designing south-facing passive solar buildings, this was our first north-facing building. The Digital Lab is organised with four storeys on its north elevation and two storeys on the south allowing all the office accommodation to have north facing views and plenty of natural daylight without unwanted solar gain or glare. As a result the majority of the building is naturally ventilated.

Exploiting the level difference of the site we were able to incorporate a maze of heavy density blockwork under the ground floor slab. This is used for cooling the incoming air destined for the linear service trench. The air enters at a low velocity and bounces off the thermal mass of the blockwork and slabs for the temperature to moderate itself before any additional heating/cooling and entering the building. 

In order to increase the biodiversity of the site and reduce water run-off, a 2000sqm sedum blanket consisting of 13 different species has been laid on the inclined roof, with the addition of carefully selected planting around the building. A linear swale adjacent the south elevation of the building forms a Sustainable Urban Drainage System. This allows water to naturally soak away into the ground soil as well as providing a diverse range of planting. Reinforced grass on the main delivery route further prevents water run-off.