The £20m project, known as M-SParc, is a subsidiary of Bangor University and boasts labs, office space and business support to companies.

Completed in February 2018, Menai Science Park in Anglesey is already making waves throughout the landscaping and architecture industry. The facility is officially Wales’ first dedicated science park, offering a staggering 31,200 square feet of lettable space which includes 45 offices, 23 laboratories and two double height workshops.

The main aim of the site itself is to drive growth in knowledge based science, with a focus on low carbon energy, the environment and ICT sectors.

Here we look at the stunning construction and in particular the landscape architecture of the project itself, focusing on the hard landscaping materials chosen and the reason behind these choices with help from a key contributor of the client team; One Environments landscape architects, Newcastle upon Tyne.

The Brief :

M-SParc sought to create the first Science Park in North Wales and become a centre of excellence for science-based and innovative industries, nurturing new organisations and supporting their growth and development. The first phase of Menai Science Park has provided accommodation for both new and established businesses, working within a wide range of science and innovation-based industries.

The scheme set out to attract and retain knowledge and experience within the North Wales area, nurturing new organisations and supporting their growth and development. The first building forms a central hub; a resource for both the tenants of the incubator facilities and future occupants of the rest of the Park. It is hoped that the scheme is a catalyst to attract the highest calibre of businesses and academics for further development of the site.

Architects FaulknerBrowns defined the following as key strategic elements in the design process in order to create:

  • An eye catching and distinctive building and landscape, one where people will want to come and work.
  • A place with a dynamic and exciting atmosphere in line with M-SParc’s mission statement of “igniting ambition” – somewhere unique and innovative, not a generic business park.
  • Somewhere that attracts and retains science, business and knowledge-based industries in North Wales, in particular, but not limited to, those associated with energy, clean technology and environmental services.
  • An efficient sustainable, low energy building, that can adopt and showcase the cutting-edge technologies being developed in the region.
  • An open, inviting workspace where ideas, knowledge and networks can be exchanged in a collaborative environment.
  • A flexible and adaptable workspace that can accommodate the changing needs of tenants and support their growth.

Materials Used:

The hard landscape design utilises contrasting materials to emphasize the concept of overlapping ribbons. The ribbons that flow into the building roof and into the courtyard have been formed from a resin-bound paving surface to reflect the Corian roofing material.

The design has been edged with Kellen kerbs to create smooth, flowing lines that seamlessly blend into the feature benches that gradually rise out of the ground. In contrast, the Kellen Marrone block paving has been used to form the main arrival plaza and within the central courtyard.

Careful attention to detail in block sizes and laying patterns ensured the smooth flowing ribbon forms could be maintained while the varied finishes of Breccia, Sferio and Liscio provided a sense of depth and textural diversity to the surfacing. Kellen kerbs were cleverly used to create the smooth flowing look in the landscape.

Standout Feature

The Corian feature roof is a stunning part of the design, helping to realise the strength of the concept and seamless integration of building and landscape through careful material selection and unified forms in both the architecture and landscape material choice and execution.

A Positive Result:

The innovative inclusion of Kellen kerbs provided an effective material to create the ribbons and edgings with minimal joints and ensure curvatures were consistent and uniform throughout the paving design. The ability to create a sense of depth and varied texture/reflectance to the paving through use of Breccia, Sferio and Liscio assisted in creating a subtle variety to the paved surface without needing to introduce other colour tones, which would otherwise over-complicate the desired aesthetic.

Anthony Dillon, managing director of Willmott Dixon in the North commented:

“M-SParc will leave an economic legacy in the region for years to come by capitalising on the technological and scientific skills of our most talented people. The building will be a catalyst for this development, encompassing offices, labs, workshops and an open working area, the building is built to inspire.”

Great to see also that M-Sparc won the Digital Construction award at the CEW Awards held in Newport in July 2018.

Client: M-Sparc; Architect: Faulknerbrowns Architects; Landscape Architects: One Environments; Civil & Structural Engineers: Caulmert; M&E Engineers: Tace; Contractors: Wilmott Dixon; Paving materials supplier: Hardscape