Christina Deias Marketing and Communications Officer 6 April 2021
The Awen Institute research facility is housed in the Talbot Building at Swansea University’s Singleton campus. Thanks to funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), it is now dramatically different from when it was originally used as a pilot chemical engineering teaching laboratory. However, the Awen Institute pays homage to its history with its new Living Lab research space through retaining a number of its original features.
Over several decades, the former teaching laboratory enabled undergraduate students to gain practical and industrially relevant experience of unit operations through the operation of pilot scale equipment including distillation columns, evaporators and other process engineering rigs.
In 2015, the laboratory was decommissioned and relocated to Swansea University’s Bay Campus, where a modern pilot chemical engineering laboratory was created. The laboratory has since been transformed with an investment of £1m to develop the new Awen Institute Living Lab, which has been equipped with state-of-the-art research equipment to enable solutions to be developed collaboratively for ageing societies.
Construction was carried out during a very testing period for the University with the Covid-19 pandemic, however the design team and contractors BBI Ltd dealt with every challenge professionally to produce an outstanding new facility.
The design philosophy integrated parts of the existing laboratory to maintain the industrial look and feel of the space, such as extensively exposed pipework.
The newly created facility now includes a reception area with agile office accommodation and an impressive purpose-built Living Lab space, incorporating a mocked-up shower and bathroom, kitchen, lounge and bedroom/office (with flexibility to simulate other environments such as a shop or different work spaces). The facility also includes a virtual reality (VR) garden and a large light café lab for use as a collaborative research area, positioned on the third floor of Talbot.
The Awen Institute, a £3.5m project, is joint funded between the European Commission, Swansea University, University of South Wales and University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The aim is to establish the Awen Institute and Wales as an international centre of excellence in developing products, services and environments for ageing societies.