Swansea University’s £35m new research facility IMPACT reaches completion

An AHR-designed advanced engineering research facility for Swansea University has reached completion. The Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT) is part of the University’s strategic expansion of the College of Engineering and, as a Centre of Excellence, will provide a unique colocation facility for academia-industry partnerships in ambitious research and development.

The transformative design combines laboratory and office space for top talent to partner up and conduct world-leading science in the fields of advanced engineering, modelling and materials.

Gary Overton, director at architecture and building consultancy practice, AHR, said, “As a powerful, collaborative environment, we approached the design for IMPACT in a way that prioritised a multidisciplinary way of working throughout. The environment stimulates ingenuity by working with the people inside, embedding connectivity between core research areas so that the industry and academia feel like the spaces are encouraging them to work together as one. We’re delighted with the result and especially excited to hear about the inspiring work that will be taking place at IMPACT.”

IMPACT will seek to tackle bold challenges such as the generation of renewable technologies, creating novel materials, and delivering the fourth industrial revolution in manufacturing.

As novel research flourishes within, an enchanting living wall made up of 5,500 plants on the building’s exterior reflects the growth of knowledge through rich biodiversity for onlookers to enjoy, as well as wildlife, with nest boxes for swifts, sparrows and bats. The design has utilised renewable energy technologies wherever possible, with features including the integration of solar thermal collector technology into the façade in a way that has not been implemented before.

Professor Johann Sienz, Director of Innovation and Engagement in the College of Engineering at Swansea University, and Director of IMPACT, added,

“AHR has converted our discussions into what already now feels will be an excellent and inspirational working environment for the many academics, researchers, students, visitors and collaborators from companies and academia.”

IMPACT follows the success of the neighbouring Computational Foundry building, also designed by AHR, which opened earlier this year. The two major new buildings at Swansea Bay Campus establishes a global destination for research at the University.

AHR’s expertise in higher education design has seen the practice recently shortlisted for the Education category in the 2019 BD Architect of the Year Awards.

The IMPACT research operation has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Swansea University.