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University of Southampton, Mountbatten Complex

Mountbatten Complex by day

The new 130,000-square-foot Mountbatten Complex for the University of Southampton is designed to be a world-leading nanotechnology research facility housing multiple laboratory and administration accommodations. The building is designed to minimize its footprint while allowing natural light and air to penetrate as much of the office and research space as possible.

Flexible cleanroom and clean lab space, technical laboratories, research laboratories and offices and technical support spaces are the accommodation types that are housed within this robust facility. One of the unique aspects of this project is the design of laboratories that are both Class 10,000 clean space and biocontainment laboratories at BSL 2, 2+, and 3.

Jacobs led architectural and engineering design and managed construction of this leading research facility.

Key Facts


square foot facility designed to “put science on display”


reduction in energy costs with innovative cooling system

Inside the Mountbatten Complex

Mountbatten lab
Mountbatten complex at night
Inside Mountbatten

The Mountbatten Complex houses research labs for some of the world’s most advanced technology research entities: Optoelectronics Research Centre, School of Electronics and Computer Science and its nanotechnology research arm and the microelectronics fabrication facility operated by a spin-off company, Innos.

Jacobs was commissioned to design a world-leading research facility accommodating multiple labs and admin functions. The facility brings together silicon, nanotechnology and biotech process into one state-of-the-art unit, facilitating cooperation/interface between these overlapping disciplines. The users and visitors to the building are involved in teaching, research and collaboration with leading international companies and agencies, creating a broad mix of users with different requirements for access and environments. The building strikes a balance between the need for security, safety, reliability, technical performance and commercial considerations, as well as the need for student access, interdisciplinary collaboration, space for creative research and access to tools and laboratories.

Bounded by a major thoroughfare on one side and a centuries-old nature preserve on another, the site’s footprint is extremely tight. The new facility is designed to minimize its footprint while allowing natural light and air to penetrate as much of the office and research space as possible. The building plan also maximizes the use of sustainable materials and practices, and minimizes energy consumption through the use of an evaporation-free cooling system, variable frequency drives and high-efficiency motors on the engineering systems, natural ventilation throughout the office areas and recirculation of rainwater to minimize chemical usage associated with softening cleanroom-use water.

The 130,000 square foot building houses 19,910 square feet of flexible cleanrooms, 17,220 feet of technical and research labs and support spaces. Stable, clean environments (labs/cleanrooms) for synthesis, characterization, packaging, assembly and testing of devices are provided. Characterization tools are provided in central, shared locations with low vibration/EMI characteristics. Tool supplies were installed with an eye toward flexibility of application and ease of upgrades in the future. Engineering systems significantly reduce the overall energy consumption of the facility.

The building has a large cooling energy requirement that is satisfied by a “free cooling” system for approximately 72% of the year, thereby allowing the building to operate without the need for chillers. In addition, the use of absorption chilling, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and an innovative automatic control system have produced an overall reduction in energy consumption of 52.8%, when compared with a conventional facility without these innovative features. Projected annual energy consumption is only some 60kWh / SM of building per annum, which provides an annual reduction in running costs of approximately $400,000.