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The Darwin Building

The original Darwin Building, part of the School of Biological Sciences, is a 10-storey tower block within The University of Edinburgh’s King’s Buildings campus. It was originally built in the 1960s. The university’s strategic project, ‘Building a New Biology’ included a full refurbishment of the tower and a three-storey extension.

As part of the project, Robertson (contracted £12m) carried out demolition of an existing two-storey Darwin Library Building plus various out-buildings.

The university worked closely with Robertson to ensure all the challenges of working within an active university environment was coordinated efficiently.


Robertson Central East constructed the three-storey extension to the university’s C H Wadding Building and a new two-storey mechanical and electrical plant building. This will house a lecture theatre, seminar spaces meeting rooms and a cafe.

The existing tower will be re-clad using a double-skin cladding system to enhance both the building’s appearance and energy performance.

Wider site enabling works are being carried out by Robertson Construction and are due to complete this year, while specialist contractor Duct Clean UK is finishing up an extensive two-year asbestos strip out of the 10-floor Darwin tower to prepare for the upgrade.

The University of Edinburgh is committed to developing low carbon buildings. Sustainability features included at the C H Waddington Building extension include:

  • Connection to the university’s combined heat and power (CHP) network
  • Low-energy lighting and intelligent ventilation systems
  • Exceptional levels of thermal insulation to ensure efficient environmental control
  • High-quality materials with a long lifecycle and high recycled content
  • BREEAM Excellent rating

The new extension and refurbished 10-storey Darwin Building have doubled the university’s capacity providing laboratories for up to 350 researchers. The total project cost is understood to be worth up to £90m

It was architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ first major commission in Scotland. The design team also included Belfast-based architectural practice Ostick and Williams, for their lab expertise, and by WYG for all engineering services.

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Project Manager: David Stephenson

Specialist light reduction doorsets to dark rooms.

Hygienic steel frames & laminate doors

Laboratory environment

  • 13nr laminate with timber frames
  • 32nr laminate with steel frames
  • 45nr in total including factory fitting or morticed hardware
  • Formica laminate faced doors
  • Glazing beads RAL painted to match laminate
  • Profiled exposed oak lipping
  • Polyester powder coated steel door frames
  • Fire rate to FD60s
  • Acoustic rated to 40dB

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