The outstanding Sir William Henry Bragg Building opened its doors to the University community at the start of the autumn term.

The building, which has been under construction for the last four years, is home to the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. It will position the University as a world leading research platform. The building is named after Sir William Henry Bragg, whose pioneering research at the University in the early 1900s won a Nobel prize and unlocked some of the biggest discoveries in modern science.

A magnificent structure

The new-build, low-carbon, glass-and-steel complex is seven-storeys and includes high-tech teaching rooms and laboratories. These seven storeys include a circa 2,400m2 basement; a hermetically sealed, negatively pressured, electrostatic environment, designed so that vibrations from passing traffic do not interfere with the ultra-sensitive laboratory instruments. This equipment includes advanced electron microscope technology for investigating and fabricating new materials.

The building has achieved an BREEAM Excellent rating for sustainability. The light filled atrium provides social breakout and collaboration space for academics, students, and professionals. The 1915 café is also designed to host a range of working, exhibition, and social activities.

People working on balcony in Bragg Building

Commenting on the building, Steve Gilley, Director of Estates and Facilities said:

“The opening of the Sir William Bragg building will bring so much to the University community. It will be a thriving hub of research and education for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, a new home for the schools of Computing and Physics, and the location for the Bragg Centre for Materials Research. It will also be a welcoming, accessible, and modernised gateway into campus.

“My thanks go to all the teams who have been involved in this project, internal and external, from inception right through to completion. I am delighted that this building will be a collaborative, supportive and safe environment for the entire University community and will foster a culture of collaboration, across the University and beyond.”

Exploring the boundary between art and science

Gracing the exterior of the building is a sculpture designed by artist Sara Barker. The installation is made from lightweight welded aluminium and a variety of shapes, motifs and colours convey ideas linked to science and engineering – and make connections with Leeds as a former centre of the textile industry and as a creative city.

The artwork is titled ‘The Worlds of If’ – a reference to the possibilities that open up when scientists and engineers work together and share ideas. That philosophy of collaboration will underpin research in the building, on topics such as the development of new materials, more energy-efficient computing devices and drug discovery.

The Bragg Building with light trails during the evening

The Inspired by Bragg programme showcases that collaboration between scientists and artists, featuring an exhibition and a whole series of art and science events, most of which are open to the public and free to attend.

Science supporting industry

Combining fundamental scientific discovery and research-led teaching with applied science and engineering activities to support industry is one aim of this building.

The Bragg Centre for Materials Research is also located within the building. Work will focus on manipulating and developing materials at the scale of individual atoms.

Professor Edmund Linfield, Director of the Bragg Centre for Materials Research, said:

“The superb facilities in the Bragg building will allow us to engineer materials at the atomic and molecular scale, and undertake internationally-leading science and engineering. It will also allow us to strengthen further our extensive interaction with academia and industry and build new research partnerships.”

People working inside the lab at bragg building

Photography of the Sir William Henry Bragg Building

Find out more about the project.