Opening Keynote: The Lab of the Future: Designing “Effective” Labs

Monday, April 23, 9:00 - 10:00 AM

Room #: Liberty Ballroom A

The speed and scale of scientific research surpassed our cognitive abilities some time ago, with accessible knowledge doubling every four to five years. And, according to scientists, we are only just entering into a new digital age that will bring unthinkable innovations and challenges. Many of these innovations are created in labs. So, of course, lab design functionality is key. But what exactly does functionality mean in this context—and who can forecast the needs of the coming years, and how can we predict what it will mean in 20 years? This Keynote will explore these questions.

We firmly believe that a lab should support scientists and researchers in doing “effective” work. Effective in the sense of productive, fruitful, compelling. For many years, lab design focused on the supply of streamlined solutions for clearly defined work flows and processes. More recently, we have come to understand that scientific work involves more than just working at a lab bench. It also comprises various activities inside and outside of the lab—some of it planned, some of it coincidental or improvised.

Just as technical innovation has affected our daily life, it also impacts research and the work of scientists. And, just like ordinary people, researchers unconsciously and instinctively adapt to their work environments. While the functional aspects of their experiments are mostly rational and can be expressed clearly, the “soft” aspects affecting behavior, communication, work flow and, consequently, effectiveness are rarely articulated. Neither by the engineers and planners, nor by those conducting the experiments.

Our approach to lab design takes account of both aspects: functional needs and processes, as well as the more conceptual correlations between circulation systems, and the allocation of functions and human behavior. Both aspects must be controlled to create working environments that offer opportunities for the researchers and are suitable for future, as yet unknown working methods. The scope of our investigations ranges from a lab’s urban setting and building dimensions all the way down to its equipment. Conceptual ideas will be illustrated using completed projects and case studies.

AIA CES Unit: 1


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