Agritech Innovation Hub
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MHA Architects have been appointed by Harper Adams University to design an exciting innovation hub for agricultural technology. With the assistance of £17.5m funding from the Government’s Strategy for Agricultural Technologies, the Innovation Hub has been built to serve the Agri-EPI Centre project which is backed by the Government’s Business Innovation and Skills Department.
MHA Architects, who have a longstanding working relationship with HAU and have advised them on a number of large successful projects over the past ten years. The team worked alongside the University as part of a consultancy project team to develop a brief and scheme design and were then subsequently novated to undertake design services to see the project through to completion.
The facility includes a large meeting room, café, seating area and stage, WC facilities and project hall changing facilities. MHA proposed that the design incorporated a two and a half storey multi-functional public atrium space with integrated meeting facilities and catering. Since opening, this has proved an essential addition to Harper Adams’ Conference facilities providing the opportunity to host presentations and innovation/product launch events.
The atrium can be directly accessed from the project hall area via a personnel door and/or feature display doors which has allowed for greater flexibility between the two areas further enabling the opportunity for overlap of activities between the two distinct areas.
The 1st floor layout overlooks the atrium and is largely formed of open plan office accommodation, IT hub and kitchen area. A boardroom and two private offices are provided with full height structural glazed partitions helping to provide a bright, open office environment.
A large double height project hall occupies roughly two thirds of the available ground floor area. A 1st floor mezzanine sits over approximately one third of this space providing additional office accommodation. The project hall has been designed to facilitate heavy goods vehicular access to allow delivery of heavy agricultural plant. An 8 tonne capacity gantry crane serves the full length of the double height area.
Harper Adams’, Vice-Chancellor Dr David Llewellyn said: “The Agritech Innovation Hub will provide a world-class innovation centre that will underpin an increase in the economic performance and competitiveness of UK farming through development and uptake of advanced engineering technologies aimed at solving current challenges faced by UK farming.
“It will provide a national focus for collaborative applied research and development between industry and academia, demonstration of new technologies and their integration in to precision farming systems, including their economic benefits through the network of satellite farms.
“An important role of the Hub will be to increase farmer uptake of innovative technologies to increase the overall benefits to UK farming. We will undertake participatory workshops with farmers and smallholders to allow them to jointly create a vision for the use of new technologies in agriculture alongside scientists and engineers.”