Optimal workflow and productivity are the keys to success in many settings, including, most critically, in a research or science lab. The right laboratory layout will maximize efficiency, meet safety and accessibility standards, and keep researchers both safe and comfortable. Whether you’re preparing to move to a new facility or redesigning a current one, there are important factors to consider to ensure the development of an efficient and productive space.
Space requirements for work and equipment
Take stock of your needs. Assess the number of people that will need to work within the lab space daily as well as the equipment they require. Seating, lighting, proper ventilation, and traffic flow have important impacts on efficiency and safety. Building out lab space in an entirely new facility is a very different project than renovating an existing one. Keep in mind that a successful laboratory floor plan design has the right combination of lab, support, and office spaces and enough room to address ongoing and future storage needs.
Consult directly with users
Designing a lab is primarily about designing for the people who will use it. No two lab layouts are exactly alike and approaching your design by tailoring it to its particular use can save money and time. Collaborating directly and in-depth with scientists or researchers allows for a thoughtfully constructed space designed with a range of specific tasks in mind. The result is a lab that promotes efficient output as well as safety and sustainability.
Optimal laboratory layout
The final laboratory floor plan and layout should foster successful output and the well-being of those who use it. Optimizing the space for efficiency means establishing convenient access to things like electrical outlets, sinks, waste disposal, utility systems, and spaces to work and meet. Factors like bench height and depth should be considered, to allow for the ergonomic use of instruments, and clear traffic flows toward emergency exits should be of prime focus.
Building in flexibility
Even the best laboratory design will reach the moment where it needs to be adjusted to meet changing demands. Building flexibility into your plans means the challenge of making changes later will be more manageable. To achieve this, strive to create a space that is easy to reconfigure. Choose worktops and equipment stations that can be relocated or adjusted to meet different requirements for comfort and safety. While careful planning is critical, there are many things current staff may not need now but could require in future. A flexible environment will go a long way to helping avoid costly rebuilds or inefficiencies as projects and goals evolve.
Safety at every stage
Safety and accessibility features must be intentionally incorporated into a lab design. Consideration should be given to physical accessibility, including walkways wide enough for wheelchairs, adjustable benchwork areas with appropriate lighting, and overhead fixtures that account for varying heights. Careful planning for the moving of fragile equipment can stave off injury or potentially expensive damage. Overall, the goal of optimizing lab researcher performance can best be achieved by crafting a well-organized, safely appointed, and adaptable workspace.