Green light for engineering and physical sciences

The University’s ambitious plans for advancing engineering and physical sciences has taken a major step forward today with a green light from Leeds City Council.

Leeds City Council’s plans panel discussed the building development this afternoon and voted to support the application, deferring the final decision to the council’s chief planning officer for approval, subject to conditions.

The £96m investment aims to provide an exceptional environment for students, and to support researchers from across engineering and physical sciences to work together to solve fundamental problems and tackle key industry challenges.

Supporting the priorities of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and strengthening the University’s international reputation in interdisciplinary research, the investment is a key part of the University’s £520m campus development programme, aimed at securing Leeds’ position in the UK’s top 10 research universities.

To be completed by the summer 2020, the £96m development will relocate the School of Computing and School of Physics and Astronomy, bringing them together with colleagues in Chemistry and Engineering for the first time.

The investment will create state-of-the-art facilities that will rival the best in the UK and will include the new Bragg Research Centre for Advanced Functional Materials.

The Bragg Centre

The Bragg Centre for Advanced Functional Materials will be the new home for the University’s internationally-recognised activity in materials characterisation and analysis of soft matter and nanostructured thin films.

It is named after Sir William Henry Bragg, the early 20th century mathematician and physicist who developed X-Ray crystallography at Leeds, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915 for his work together with his son Sir William Lawrence Bragg.

The Bragg Centre will also be the location for to the University’s research in functional materials and devices, which is part of the UK-wide Henry Royce Institute. This institute brings together world-leading academics from across the UK to study and develop advanced materials, with Leeds’ specialism in Atoms-to-Devices and the translation of new material systems from the atomic scale to operational device.

Exceptional environment

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “The Bragg Centre’s interdisciplinary culture and state-of-the-art facilities will support and attract the best minds at all levels, placing our exceptional standard of research on a global scale.

Working in such an innovative environment will also transform how we can work with our industry partners on real world problems.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation

“The Bragg Centre will be a fabulous environment for cross-disciplinary teams to work on big technical challenges, drawing on our existing strengths," Professor Roberts continued, "while working together in new and disruptive ways to improve both the quality and the scale of our research; working in such an innovative environment will also transform how we can work with our industry partners on real world problems.”

Superlabs

The "superlabs" concept behind the Engineering Physical Sciences development will bring together existing strengths in applied and fundamental research to support interdisciplinary problem-solving research groups. They will tackle challenges facing the private sector and industry, from conception and theory to imaging, fabrication, application and translation.

Professor Steve Scott, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences, said: “We are creating an exceptional environment to carry out cutting-edge research; the interplay between people, working culture, equipment and buildings will be central to creating the highest quality findings and original ideas.

“The quality of our research, brought about through leading facilities and the exceptional breadth of our academic staff will drive external partnerships and attract international support, leading to greater depth in funding bids and a rise in standards of research.”

The interplay between people, working culture, equipment and buildings will be central to creating the highest quality findings and original ideas.

Professor Steve Scott, Executive Dean of Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Research capability

The £96m complex will be fully funded by the University of Leeds and will bring together existing scientific hardware from the schools involved. In addition, a significant strategic funding bid is being prepared for Research Councils to bring in the very latest equipment in a range of fields.

Areas of research it will support include energy efficient computing, telecommunications, sustainable magnetic materials, sensors for use in biological systems and extreme or remote environments, pharmaceutical formulations, "smart foods" and medical technologies.

Benefits for students

The University’s undergraduate and thriving postgraduate and postdoctoral communities will also benefit, with the investment prioritising world-class teaching and laboratory spaces for research-based learning. The news comes as the University prepares to launch the Leeds Doctoral College, to further support postgraduate researchers.

Once completed, the development will host some 2,000 staff and students, who will study across the spectrum of physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, and computer sciences.

Positioned on a prominent public-facing location of the campus in Woodhouse Lane, the proposed 15,700m2 building is the largest, single-project investment ever to have been made on the University campus.

Further information

Professor Scott is available for interview, please contact the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 4031 or email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

Artist’s impressions are available. 

Building a tribute to Sir William Henry Bragg