Mellor Laboratories - University of Otago


Dunedin, New Zealand 

The University of Otago's revamp of the 50-year-old Mellor Laboratories building is part of a multi-year redevelopment that aims to put science on show and support excellence.

The existing laboratory spaces in the building had become crowded, impractical and, at times, unsafe. As project consultants to Parker Warburton Team Architects, our challenge was to transform the area into a safe, flexible teaching environment that caters for large numbers of students.

Drawing on modern learning and research approaches, we began by opening up formerly enclosed areas to improve collaboration. We also created breakout spaces within the laboratory zone that allow for multiple classes to be held simultaneously while still enabling small group teaching and discussion.

In keeping with the university's commitment to being fully accessible, we introduced adjustable benching and fume cupboards to ensure the facilities meet the needs of people with disabilities. We also fostered uptake of best-practice safety protocols through convenient placement of gown and bag storage spaces, safety stations, and alarms. Technology to assist the students' learning is incorporated at every teaching location.

The first stage of the redevelopment project was finished in early 2017. The revamped ground-floor teaching laboratories can now accommodate up to 200 first-year students across a range of science subjects. 

When completed, the university's new science precinct will be on a par with the best of what's available internationally, and flexible enough to meet students' needs well into the future.