Portakabins to form temporary 'science complex' after fire at St Andrews University

Temporary science labs made from Portakabins are to be built at St Andrews University after a fire ripped through the biomedical sciences building where world-leading research is conducted.
Mock of temporary Portakabin science lab at St Andrews UniversityMock of temporary Portakabin science lab at St Andrews University
Mock of temporary Portakabin science lab at St Andrews University

While the original building’s compartment design restricted the spread of the blaze in February, the operation to douse the flames caused extensive water-damage to all areas of the facility on the North Haugh.

Starting next Monday 44 Portakabins, which fit together to create a specialist laboratory complex will be transported from York to St Andrews and craned into position to create the new building.

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Installation of the new facilities will begin this month with construction and specialist internal fit out works due for completion by mid-October, at a cost of £9m.

The modular units will be transported by articulated lorry, and this may cause some temporary disruption to traffic on the North Haugh on delivery.

The Portakabins will allow important research be re-started while the lengthy operation to recover the building continues.

The new temporary complex will accommodate biology teaching and research laboratories alongside bespoke office spaces.

The specialist modular units are built at the Portakabin factory in York.

Professor Tom Brown, dean of science at the university said new temporary labs would “show the world we are open for business.”

“The fire at the biomedical sciences building was devastating to not only the researchers, students and staff here in St Andrews, but was also felt across the whole scientific community.

“The construction of the temporary lab facilities ensures that the ground-breaking research carried out within the biomedical sciences building continues and lets the world know we are open for business, delivering results of real global significance.”

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Further development of new chemistry research labs within the Purdie Building at the North Haugh will also take place, at a cost of £3m. Existing biology teaching within the Purdie Building will be relocated to the new modular labs.

The full extent of the fire damage is still unknown. Following the clearance works , including the careful removal of the chemicals and equipment, a full assessment of the damage will take place over the coming months.