A state-of-the-art STEM laboratory scheme at the University of Cumbria

built off-site in two phases on budget with an accelerated construction programme


Additional bioscience facilities were required to allow the University of Cumbria to expand its science portfolio by offering degree-level qualifications in chemistry and biomedical science.

The investment in the new specialist ‘category 2’ research laboratories would help address the national skills gap for graduates with specific bioscience skills and would support the regional nuclear and pharmaceutical industries in particular. The building would also be a catalyst for greater collaboration with local schools to encourage interest in STEM subjects from an early age.


The Portakabin Group delivered a second state-of-the-art STEM laboratory scheme – on time, on budget, and after only four months on site.

The £1.6m project on the Fusehill Campus in Carlisle seamlessly extended laboratory facilities completed by Portakabin in 2015 using a Portakabin Design and Build off-site solution. The scheme was developed to meet the growing demand from students for degrees in a range of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.

500sqm of laboratory accommodation was craned into position in just five days and required only nine people on site. The building installation was carried out during the summer recess to avoid any disruption to the university.

Externally, the new upper floor has solar control feature glazing, areas of cedar cladding and brise soleil sunshading to fully integrate it with the first phase of the building.

“Our priorities were speed, quality and cost efficiency and the Portakabin Group has excelled in each area. It has been really easy to extend the original Portakabin Design and Build solution vertically. We are delighted that the building was handed over on time and on budget in time for the start of the new academic year – and despite a very tight programme. By working in partnership with us, Portakabin has definitely added value to the project and their team ensured its success.”

Paul McCulloch, Head of Capital Development, University of Cumbria

Portakabin used a Portakabin Design and Build off-site solution for the building and was also responsible for the installation, testing and commissioning of the air handling systems to category 2 level of containment; fume cupboards, and microbiology safety cabinets.

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