Client:The University of Sheffield

Factory 2050 - The Reconfigurable Factory

Architects: Bond Bryan Architects 
Project Managers: Gardiner & Theobald
Civil/Structural Engineers: Curtins
Quantity Surveyor: Rex Procter


Contractor: Interserve Construction
Construction Value:
Completion Date: 2015
Gross Internal Floor Area: 7,000sqm
BREEAM Sustainability Rating: Very Good

Factory 2050's reconfigurable environment will help the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) achieve a key objective: developing high value manufacturing production over short run cycles but with limited down time.  Such environments will increase future productivity and allow the "re-shoring" of fundamental wealth creation back to the UK.

A circular layout was proposed for an AMRC project in 2005, but not achievable at that time due to budget and programme constraints.  Factory 2050 demonstrates the suitability of a circular arrangement for a re-configurable environment.

In the summer of 2013, Bond Bryan won an opportunity to design a unique facility: a factory combining cutting edge manufacturing and assembly technologies with 'big data' capabilities; a factory easily reconfigured to allow rapid switching in production between multiple high-value components and one-off parts for customers from a wide range of sectors.

The UK is one of the foremost destinations for ideas-based engineering creating the processes and products of the future.  The AMRC's leadership's dream is to help the UK regain the initiative in global manufacturing, create long-term sustainability in engineering and allow re-shoring of fundamental wealth creation.

The circular form has fully glazed elevations enclosing a totally integrated manufacturing environment.  At its heart is a core of open plan desk space and meeting rooms; visually linking this 'workspace donut' with production; connecting thinking and doing was always a core design principle.  Hands-on doing and reporting are replacing the days of disappearing into cellular offices away from the production environment; the 'them and us' culture is no longer.  The need for quiet space hasn't gone away but it is provided in multifunctional collabortive spaces.

Total flexibility and an uncluttered environment was a prerequisite that could not be compromised.  A single staircase serving the workspace core connects to a tunnel under the production space and removes the requirement for an emergency escape corridor at surface level.  The mechanical and electrical installation is distributed from the centre but mostly hidden from view; covered trenches get vital air, water, power and data to the machines.

The 360 degree, eight metre high Schuco steel curtain walling system spans from ground to roof.  Using a three metre by one metre glazing module, something from other AMRC and other earlier Bond Bryan commerical projects, the facade has a horizontal emphasis.  The "Formula One Wing" sun shading around the top third of the glazing reduces glare and overheating.  Out board of the main facade is a unique 'V' system of circular tubes bracing the overall structure.  'Baileys' eaves profiles are manufactured to tight tolerances giving the upper edge of the building a very slim profile.

Principal designer Darren Southgate said, 'this is quite a special moment for me, seeing a vision ten years in the making become a reality.  Our team of designers has worked 'hand in glove' on this fabulous project.  Bond Bryan Associate and 2050 project architect Jon Rigby has worked with site manager Lianne Lawson and the whole Interserve team to deliver a high quality solution; the partnership has been exceptional.

During the earlier design phases, an additional building was added to the brief; this became knowl as Mark II, with the original circular building labelled Mark I.  The long and thin Mark II wing is attached via a glazed atrium.  The building sits within our AMRC 2 Campus Masterplan that promotes a formal setting whilst ensuring efficiency of operation.

Some have said that from above Factory 2050 looks like the Starship Enterprise; we hope 2050's enterprising engineers go where no engineer has gone before!

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