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National Robotarium

National Robotarium

The National Robotarium, a collaborative partnership between Heriot-Watt University, the University of Edinburgh and commercial partners, is part of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative and is supported by backing from the UK and Scottish Government. The project is located on development land within the extension boundary of the Heriot Watt University Research Park.

The National Robotarium is one of the first of a new cluster of buildings in the park, following on from the completion of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service nearby in 2018. From the start, Heriot-Watt University had a clear vision “to create the UK’s leading innovation hub for the practical application of robotics and autonomous systems”.

This new facility, the first of its kind, provides a dedicated innovation hub for the acceleration of knowledge and developments within the robotic and autonomous system industry. The brief for the UK’s debut Robotarium was to create flexible lab space combined with office accommodation in an environment that promotes collaboration between industry and education - where a new tech community can be created.

The brief was developed with the client, and the internal layout required a high level of consultation with the end users to understand and refine the strategic brief and building requirements. In-depth departmental interviews and stakeholder workshops allowed us to define their unique lab configurations and map out adjacencies and shared space. Collaboration and attention to the human experience were the critical success factors for the project; encapsulated by the design of the forum space. This central, shared space provides physical and visual transparency and connectivity for all building users, the mix of space types and finishes complementing the overall experience.

This pioneering facility deserved to have an innovative ‘shop window’ and symbolic presence to match. The vibrant, fully glazed double skin façade creates an iconic identity. Integrated feature lighting and branding manifestations enhance this signature element to provide a unique and controllable appearance that makes the facility a destination within the University Campus. We used a “fabric first” approach to the envelope design, where airtightness and increased thermal performance reduce energy demand, beyond statutory requirements. MLA’s architectural approach to the Robotarium reflects the university’s ambitions, providing an instantly recognisable, flexible and collaborative building of great quality that has instantly become the face of Robotics in Scotland.

PROJECT: National Robotarium
LOCATION: Heriot Watt University Research Park
CLIENT: Heriot-Watt University & the University of Edinburgh
ARCHITECT: Michael Laird Architects
National Robotarium
National Robotarium
National Robotarium

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