Scotland’s flagship manufacturing facility reaches practical completion

The new National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) facility in Renfrewshire has reached practical completion. Following just over two years of construction, the University of Strathclyde, as the operator of NMIS, has taken ownership of the new flagship facility at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS).

Built by Morrison Construction, the 11,500 sqm operationally carbon neutral development will act as a magnet for innovative manufacturing, engineering and tech businesses, offering a creative place where they can come together to share skills and develop new ideas. The building is home to the NMIS Manufacturing Skills Academy and also incorporates a fully connected Digital Factory and a publicly accessible collaboration hub. 

Unique features of the NMIS HQ include its deep purple façade, referencing Scotland’s renowned blooming heather, whilst a 32m x 12m ‘window to the world’ provides a view into the Digital Factory where the future of manufacturing will be explored and delivered, and the dramatic timber Glulam structure sits internally above the office and collaborative spaces.

Leading the way with sustainable design, the facility also features innovative low carbon solutions to mitigate its impact on the environment. This includes a large rooftop solar array for electricity generation, access to a state-of-the-art low carbon district heating network, and a rainwater harvesting system.

Our early involvement from the project’s feasibility stage allowed us to fully understand the various technical aspects that governed the civil and structural design. Future flexibility was a key requirement of the project brief, and our team accommodated this by ensuring that any future servicing requirements can be accommodated with minimal disruption to the main structure. Flexibility has also been designed-in to the scheme by locating services below the slabs within a fully accessible services trench cast into the ground floor slab. Elsewhere, our design also incorporated additional drainage pop-ups and associated below ground drainage to areas where potential additional toilet or kitchen facilities may be needed in the future.

Our structures team worked closely with HLM Architects and the wider design team to develop and implement sustainable design solutions throughout. We carried out a comparative study of the embodied carbon within the structural frame, reviewing the materials and frame options against the original building concept, shape and form. This resulted in the selection of a hybrid steel/timber frame with a timber-based solution for part of the building which utilises cross-laminate timber (CLT) with glulam timber beams and columns for the collaborative space, together with a steel frame for the digital factory.

Externally, sustainable drainage systems improve water quality and control surface water run-off, whilst a range of ground improvement solutions reduced the volume of excavated and imported material. Through a collaborative engagement with Renfrewshire Council, we secured permission to retain the excavated material on site for re-use in future projects and developments.

Celebrating the scheme reaching this major construction milestone in a recent statement, NMIS Chief Executive Offer, Chris Courtney, said: “This is a truly exciting time for us all at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) Group and a fantastic way to start the year, but in many ways, the real work starts now. The next few months will see us bringing this magnificent building to life with the installation of cutting-edge equipment and the phased relocation of some of our team. Our new HQ is a place designed for intense collaboration, accelerated innovation and the development of the skills required to deliver the future of manufacturing.”

Alun Rae, Waterman’s Director for Structures, commented: “We are thrilled to see practical completion at NMIS. The new facility will shape the future of manufacturing and innovation in Scotland, helping manufacturing businesses become world leaders in innovation. This was a great collaborative team effort, congratulations to everyone involved.”