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Planning and Design


laboratory design

We are specialists in highly functional and people-centric interior design for laboratory spaces

At COEL, we understand that planning the interior design of a laboratory space requires a specialised set of skills. The materials, furnishings, technology and equipment should all combine to create a practical, productive, collaborative and inspiring workspace.

The secret of our success? We let the scientists take the lead.

Working collaboratively with our life sciences clients, we design and deliver laboratories that meet the practical needs of the people who will work there.


Human-focused laboratory design


As a starting point, we gather all of your key stakeholders together so we can gain an understanding of the practical and scientific needs of your business.

Although laboratories generally incorporate similar themes, your laboratory interior design may vary greatly depending on your particular working methods.

One thing we know for sure – we are not scientists, we are designers!

We will work with your scientists to plan workflows, taking the time to understand how the space will be used to create a laboratory design that is unique to your business.


The finished fit out and design exceeded our expectations and has provided us with a fantastic space which supports our research requirements and provides us with communal areas and meeting rooms for us to get together as a team Dr Barnaby Balmforth, CEO and co-founder of Biofidelity

A strategic approach to laboratory workspace consultancy


Before we even think about your laboratory’s fit-out and furnishings, we will assign a project team of specialists to perform a needs analysis with your key stakeholders.

This will involve:

  • Assessing your existing lab workspace and how you use it (if applicable).
  • Agreeing on your business objectives and what we can do to help you achieve them.
  • Identifying any bespoke space requirements, whether practical, scientific or people-focused.
  • Taking the time to understand your business and brand and how we can tailor a lab space that is personal to you.
  • Looking forward to make sure the laboratory works for your team now and in the future.
  • Working together to agree on realistic budgets and time frames to devise an achievable project plan


A focus on function over
form in laboratory design


In commercial interior design, there is often a battle between form and function. Of course, both are important. But with clinical laboratory interior design, function must take greater precedence.

Once we have defined the strategy, our project team will work closely with the people behind the science! Our goal is to create a laboratory design that is functional, respectful of your brand and its values, and which carefully considers your service requirements.

We are fortunate to have in-house mechanical and electrical experts who can advise on how to manage services safely and efficiently based on how your lab will be used. Whether this involves basic power, consideration of lab gases, compressed air, extraction, pressure regimes or sufficient cooling, we have the know-how to resolve any issues.

Usually, we will ask some questions to determine how we will design your space:

  • Do you handle any harsh chemicals?
  • Is there a need for vibration control? Is soundproofing important?
  • Do you require cold storage space?
  • Do you need an adequate workspace for larger-scale equipment?
  • What about circulation access and egress? Do you require 24-hour access?
  • Do you need room for future expansion?
  • Do we need to consider the required adjacencies to enable a safer and more productive working environment?
  • Are there any regulatory approvals or laboratory classifications to factor in (e.g., a category 2 laboratory or a cleanroom specification to meet ISO standards)?

Our lab designers are extremely adept at asking the right questions and offering expert insights so we can make the most out of your laboratory space and empower your scientists to ensure that their working methods are taken into account.


Where office design and laboratory design meet


We recognise that this focus on function should not come at the expense of creativity and aesthetically pleasing design. Many of the themes vital to office design apply here too.

Space to breathe

We are increasingly seeing laboratory design layout briefs that focus on creating warm and calming spaces for employees to break away from the lab’s often controlled and clinical working environment.


Today’s ‘write-up’ spaces are more likely to resemble recreational hubs: comfortable and inspiring in design with the option for privacy and silence when required.

Fostering productivity

Common themes include the use of natural light, access to fresh air, a sense of natural calm and an injection of brand and personality. These themes are just as important in the communal and breakout spaces we create for our life sciences clients as they are in offices.

Highly adaptable

As working practices continue to evolve, laboratories need to be just as adaptable and flexible as offices to suit the current and future needs of the workforce.

A sustainable approach to laboratory design

A standard laboratory uses five times as much energy and water per square foot as a conventional office building.

This is quite a responsibility, particularly for a purpose-built laboratory with new services that may significantly impact the surrounding natural and human environments. For this reason, when designing labs, the life sciences industry must place even greater importance on its sustainability responsibilities.

Some of the ways in which we can help our clients meet their sustainability goals include:

  • Examining the lab’s energy and water requirements from a holistic perspective to identify areas for improved efficiency
  • Encouraging recycling and sourcing recycled materials wherever possible
  • Identifying ways of reducing harmful substances and waste
  • Using materials and resources efficiently
  • Creating a safe and comfortable environment to foster productivity
  • Considering the impact of our newly built environment on its surrounding natural environment
Plumbing & Heating

Why choose COEL for your
laboratory design?


We are located right at the heart of life sciences

With offices in Oxford and Cambridge, we are based in two of the UK’s most promising hubs of life sciences.

We offer a complete turnkey solution

As well as planning and designing your laboratory space, our in-house teams can also help plan the office space, manage your relocation and the bespoke furniture needs of the lab, and set up your mechanical and electrical services.

We can demonstrate our successes

We have already worked with investors and owner-occupiers to create incredible facilities in the east of England and beyond. Having designed both purpose-built and repurposed laboratories, we believe we have the necessary skills to build a space that will meet the unique needs of your business.

We design and deliver responsibly

Besides creating sustainable laboratory spaces for our clients, we also recognise our own impact and as such we are working towards achieving our net zero carbon goals.

Our Projects

Talk to us about your
lab design

At COEL, we design and build lab spaces that will bring out the best in your team. If you would like to discuss your requirements, please complete the form below.


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