Like homes and offices, laboratories also adapt and change as a result of the latest design trends. These changes can affect the aesthetics of labs and also have major impacts on the functionality.
Adaptability across disciplines
The original boundaries between disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering are becoming increasingly blurred. This means labs now need to be able to handle a variety of tasks that may have been previously done in an entirely different building. As a result, labs are being built with more areas for teams to work together and more places for specialty support, which helps to facilitate the sharing of equipment. Lab spaces are also being redesigned so that equipment can easily be moved in and out allowing the space to adapt to changes without being fully redesigned.
Increased computing technology
More and more projects are becoming data-intensive which means that researchers need fast, high-capacity computing abilities. These needs are increasing faster than server sizes are decreasing which means labs must be designed with adequate space for computer access, power, and cooling. These server rooms must be considered in the early stages of lab planning to ensure this critical need is not overlooked.
The design and construction of a new 10,000 sq meter lab building takes about three years from start to finish. However, the rapidly changing nature of scientific research makes it difficult to ensure that a design will stand the test of time. Designers are creating labs that can adapt to the times easily and expensively, for example by using modular furniture and ceiling-mounted utility connections.
A focus on sustainability
Like many workplaces, labs are looking for changes that prioritize sustainability. One of the major ways this is achieved is by limiting the amount of electricity consumed. Additionally, designers can be thoughtful about the materials that are used for furniture and their impact on the environment. For example, many designers are choosing pieces that feature sustainable materials.
Development of social spaces
The science world today relies heavily on collaboration. As a result, lab spaces need to be able to accommodate both planned meetings and impromptu conversations as well as shared materials and equipment. One of the best ways to encourage this type of conversation is to create meeting places outside of the lab. Creative uses of space such as window seats and atriums are a good way to do this.
Openness and visibility
Closed off offices have begun to go out of style and open spaces with natural light have taken their place. New labs have begun to mimic this trend. In fact, a recent survey of employee attitudes toward work showed that younger workers place value on natural light in their workplace. Some labs have taken this idea even further by glazing interior walls to provide a direct view of the lab. This provides additional visibility for investors, visitors, press, and analysts touring the facility.
Spaces to attract top talent
Employers are creating workspaces that will attract and retain the best talent of the next generation of researchers. For example, labs are incorporating more modern, bright designs. They are also adding amenities for a more relaxed and collaborative workspace like huddle rooms and lounge areas to help employees feel at ease on the job.
Does your lab exemplify any of these trends? Tell us about them on Twitter, @Conserisapp.
Conseris is a data collection application designed to help researchers collect, store, and analyze data more efficiently.