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New super lab in Oxford wows first visitors

20 December 2022
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A laboratory building blending contemporary design and eco features has opened in Oxford to help meet the urgent need for more lab space in the city, and the designers have had fun with the interiors too.

At the official opening of the Swailes SuperLab in Osney Mead guests got to see the extraordinary building for themselves.

From the ‘runway’ leading to the door to the oversized exterior chess board and the break-out area modelled on a London tube station, it was instantly clear that this is no ordinary commercial property.

SuperLab tube station[6] But there is a serious side to this amazing building. The team at Oxford-based Robin Swailes Design and Development has aimed it at the next generation of science entrepreneurs and innovators looking for lab space in the city in the face of huge demand.

Robin said: “I first heard about the lack of lab space in Oxford four years ago and the importance of capturing young science companies backed by investors looking to move on to the next stage of their development.

“The SuperLab offers superb facilities in an ideal position giving great access to the university and city centre as well as major transport links.”

Guests at the launch were given tours of the building which offers almost 7,000 sq ft of accommodation for up to 84 staff.

Matt Peachey, Economic Development Manager at Oxford City Council, said: “It is really exciting to see this project come to fruition.

“It is a unique facility with big, open rooms, interesting design features and lots of space to collaborate. Science and technology companies are growing quickly creating a need for space and this is an early example of that requirement being met.”

Richard Venables, Senior Director of commercial property advisors CBRE Oxford, said: “This is an opportunity to have an inspiring workplace within a quarter of a mile of Oxford city centre and the university which is spinning out 15 science firms a year.

“Supply of lab space in Oxford is at an all-time low and this provides a light, bright working environment with features that will make you enjoy coming to work.”

Louise Sutton, Industry Director of laboratory equipment supplier Fisher Scientific, said: “Oxford has a lot of incubator space for companies just starting out but this building is ideal for firms in the next stages of their development and it will be a really good environment for them.”

The building is made of 95 per cent recycled aluminium and features a grey water system using collected rainwater to flush the toilets, thermal efficient panelling, air source heat pumps and solar panels to minimise its carbon footprint and keep running costs as low as possible.

Curved walls, round windows and open ceilings create a sense of space and wellbeing topped off with advanced acoustics and quality finishing touches such as the use of walnut on handrails and Siemens appliances in the three kitchens.

Outside, a roof top recreation area provides space for al fresco meetings, eating and drinking with views over Oxford’s Dreaming Spires.

But the best feature of all for most visitors are the ‘good day’ and ‘bad day’ buttons which automatically drop the blinds, play rock music and drop a glitter ball from the ceiling.


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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