Zepler Institute

University of Southampton

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Project Value:



Key Points

Conversion of former retail unit

Facilities for multi-functional innovation

Demonstration Spaces

Brand new entrance


Part of the Russell Group, the University of Southampton is a research-led highly ranked British university.

This project saw the conversion of a former bookshop into a base for the Zepler Institute, a research group that brings together researchers in photonics with collaborators in electronics and computer science, life sciences, engineering and medicine. The former bookshop had modest ground floor shop fronts facing north onto Burgess Road and south into the Campus, but actually occupied the majority of the first floor of the Rick Mather designed Gower Building.

Multi-functional spaces

The existing retail space was completely stripped-out and totally refitted to provide a variety of areas and functions, including:

A new entrance area – the existing shop entrance facing south, into the campus, was enlarged and the internal staircase rotated 180 degrees to give the research institute it’s own identity and focus this towards the academic centre of the campus.

Demonstration spaces – the remaining ground floor space was configured to provide two highly flexible demonstration spaces to showcase the wide variety of smart technologies developed by the department – literally serving as the shop-front for the research activity within.

Workspace / office areas – the majority of the first-floor has been reconfigured to provide fresh, open and collaborative research office space, with shared cellular offices for more senior staff, plus an admin support team.

Multi-functional innovation spaces – at the heart of the research office, a versatile pair of interconnecting meeting/ innovation / ‘sandbox’ spaces have been provided, complete with integrated glass-boards & video walls and a small kitchenette. A high performance acoustic moveable partition can be deployed to maintain two separate functional rooms or open up to allow whole group meetings/ seminars
WCs – new WC and shower facilities are provided to support the 90+ strong resident research team.

New Technologies

As the Institute is working at the cutting edge of new technologies in the field of AI, it was felt that the look and feel of the new facilities should reflect this. There was an aspiration to create a modern ‘Google like’ environment that feels fresh and innovative, but also caters for researchers’ wellbeing.

Externally, new windows were inserted as the change of use from retail to office mandated a requirement for natural day light within the space. South facing windows were provided with new brise soleil to limit solar gains and a sophisticated MHRV ventilation system was introduced to provide very good levels of fresh air through a low energy/ sustainable system connected to heat pumps at roof level but drawing fresh air in through grilles integrated into the new windows.