Walk-in chambers complex completed for NIAB –

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany

Case studies

Walk-in chambers complex completed for NIAB

Unigro were commissioned to design and build a complex of walk-in chambers by NIAB (The National Institute of Agricultural Botany), the world-renowned plant research organisation.

The spore proof complex is placed within an existing barn at the Cambridge headquarters and consists of eighteen independently controlled plant growth rooms. These environmental walk-in chambers enable a 365-day operation and were designed to maximise the space in an existing building. The chambers operate under negative pressure to maintain the integrity of the independent research and avoid any cross contamination issues. 

The plant growth walk-in chambers are equipped with a Trend building management system, which enables users to remotely access individual chambers to gather relevant information of chamber conditions. This system provides data storage of individual conditions and gives warnings of mechanical plant failure or deviations from set parameters.

Key components of the walk-in chambers include:

• The heating and cooling system is driven by two 50kW chillers which operate in parallel to provide the supply of cold water to maintain the required chamber temperatures at an ambient of 32°C.

• Each chiller is designed to operate at 75% of capacity and in the event of a fault to any chiller, the remaining chiller is capable of maintaining chamber temperatures with reduced lighting levels. This function is programmed within the BMS strategy, which automatically reduces lighting levels in specified chambers allowing a research priority protocol to operate.

• To complete the complex an air-conditioned laboratory/potting room accessible via the integrated corridor is included.

The walk-in chambers complex was a successful project which met the brief.