VolkerFitzpatrick completes new PEARL research facility for UCL

VolkerFitzpatrick recently completed the construction of UCL’s world leading Person-Environment-Activity Research lab (PEARL) in Dagenham.

PEARL UCL8_sm.jpg
PEARL UCL8_sm.jpg

The new state-of-the-art facility is a reconfigurable space, which can house life-sized simulated environments such as a train station or high street, creating controlled conditions in which to analyse people's interactions.

The 100m long facility is constructed from a portal steel frame with bespoke Kingspan and Coreten cladding and includes an entirely column-free experiment space, 500-person retractable seating area and 2,500m2 of storage space.

The building also features a reception, offices, kitchen, workshop, social and study areas, mezzanine plant decks and a high-level specialist lighting gantry. A dedicated sound laboratory allows research development to continue in parallel with live simulations.

During construction, VolkerFitzpatrick implemented innovative processes and techniques, to maximise efficiency. This included designing the building’s two-storey office space using exposed Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), which allowed them to manufacture panels and floors off site to an exceptionally high level of accuracy. Building Information Modelling was also used to map out details such as predrilled holes within the CLT, for mechanical and electrical services. The facility has also been designed to be net zero carbon, with extensive photovoltaic panelling installed on the roof.

Throughout the project, VolkerFitzpatrick has actively engaged with and supported the local community. Spare timber from the site was recycled and crafted into benches for a neighbouring café and the team refurbished facilities at a nearby hostel.

In addition, the project has exceeded local authority social value targets, including sourcing 41 per cent of the on-site labour from the local area.

Stuart Deverill, managing director of VolkerFitzpatrick’s Building division, said: “I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication which the team has shown in bringing this unique project to completion, during such challenging times. The PEARL facility has been delivered to a high specification and with great care and attention to detail.”

Neil Turvey, UCL estates development assistant director, said: “VolkerFitzpatrick understood the needs of the client from the start of the project and has worked hard to deliver this exceptional facility safely, on time, and to budget in the middle of the pandemic; a fantastic achievement. PEARL is UCL’s first carbon neutral facility in use and will enable research, into accessibility and mobility in modern cities. A great accomplishment by all those involved.”