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14 August 2014

HOK’s Adrian Gainer on Adaptability in Laboratory Design

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HOK in London Science + Technology Leader Adrian Gainer explores the meaning of adaptability and incorporating it in laboratory design.

“So, how do we start to think about designing for adaptability?”

gainer-adrian150x150“An interesting approach is one that has its origins in ‘futures thinking’. Decision making in lab design can sometimes be too focused on the short term. By opening perspectives beyond immediate constraints, ‘futures thinking’ can enhance our capacity to anticipate change, grasp opportunities and cope with threats. While the future cannot be firmly predicted, we can look forward to a range of possibilities by applying an approach of scenario development. Scenarios are carefully constructed snapshots of the future and the possible ways a field may develop. They help focus thinking on the most important factors affecting change; improve our understanding of change and what we can do to react to it.”

“In our scenario planning work, we look first at a number of change scenarios that may be required and then consider what needs to happen to allow the change and what impacts the accommodation of that change would have. Three typical scenarios we consider are: a change of function within a room (e.g. from a tissue culture lab to an instrument lab); a  change of function from an open primary lab bay to a dedicated secondary lab bay; and a change of function of a laboratory to an office environment. For each of these scenarios it is imperative to review the principle activities that need to take place in order to affect the change, for example do we need to remove a wall, relocate a fire barrier, move laboratory furniture, or reconfigure lighting? Considering the practicalities of these changes, for example the ease of the change, the cost associated with the change, or the disruption it may cause, enables us to assess the potential adaptability of a design.”

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