As the year comes to a close, designers are busier than ever. This festive time of the year is when many lab designers — including the specialists at OnePointe Solutions — review the past 12 months of development within their field.
For laboratory designers, the past few years have been filled with new and unique challenges. The impact of the pandemic remains palpable, and lab design continues to develop new ways to promote healthy working environments in laboratories.
2022 has brought many innovations, all of which can be incorporated into any upcoming project. These changes help to advance the scientific field by ensuring that all of its workers are given a safe and efficient work environment, improving productivity.
Adaptability, Adjustability, and Comfort
It may not be a new trend, but adaptable furniture remains a popular investment. These fixtures feature all the functionality of traditional furniture with the added bonus of adjustable specifications.
Within laboratories, this trend is usually implemented through a variety of accessories. Adjustable table legs, stable casters, and anti-vibration attachments turn standard stainless steel tables into fully mobile workstations.
Desks now commonly feature accessories or extensions that allow the user to transition from sitting to standing. These adjustable setups give researchers opportunities to stretch and adjust, reducing the likelihood of future health problems.
Of all the trends in lab design this year, adjustability may just be the most widely applicable, as adopting a modular and adjustable layout facilitates many of the other lab design trends in 2022. For individual workers, this trend is an essential step toward a more comfortable workspace, which produces benefits such as:
- Better health
- Boosted worker happiness
- Improved productivity
- Reduced absences due to repetitive strain injuries
Anything Can Be Adjusted
Ergonomics is one of the most important trends in modern lab design.
However, to take full advantage of this trend, projects must consider every aspect of the laboratory. While tables, desks, and workstations are common targets for customization, they are not the only elements to improve.
Because so much time is spent sitting in laboratories (and many other offices), workers often suffer from strain injuries, poor posture, and reduced health. The proper office chairs — with fully adjustable specifications — will mitigate these risks.
These small touches will benefit every worker and promote a brighter future for your laboratory.
Open Layouts and Creative Spatial Use
Creating entirely new laboratories is prohibitively expensive and ecologically harmful. Moreover, many laboratories exist within the footprint of a larger building, preventing extensive reconfiguration.
However, the pandemic has increased the world’s awareness of the importance of personal space, and workers are struggling to operate within cramped spaces.
To facilitate open discussion and movement, one of the biggest trends in lab design has been the adoption of open layouts. These spacious areas are perfect for collaborative work, and many workers enjoy the ability to mingle without close contact.
The Challenges of Open Design
For all their benefits, open design laboratories are still laboratories. Safety concerns remain prevalent, and designers must find ways to create safe environments within these expansive rooms.
Mobile dividers and partitions are the most practical solution to many concerns for these laboratories. Workers utilize these shields as barriers between themselves and coworkers as they engage in their day-to-day activities while enjoying the benefits of fully adaptive spaces.
As a laboratory’s needs change, workers can easily rearrange their environments.
Partitions can be equipped with additional accessories (such as drying racks and built-in cabinetry) to amplify their effectiveness. When coupled with a fully customized island, these features create unique opportunities for laboratories to work under any circumstances.
However, designers must account for safety concerns that may arise when spaces are rearranged. The skillful designer can craft a fully adjustable layout that seamlessly integrates any necessary equipment — such as large machinery, storage units, and biosafety cabinets — into an adaptable space without sacrificing safety.
The Benefits of Open Lab Designs
Open designs are part of an overarching push for increased workplace health and wellness. Both workers and supervisors are becoming more aware of the dangers of modern office life, prompting many to encourage regular movement and collaboration.
Ultimately, the goal of these open-concept laboratories is a multifaceted workplace restructuring. Workers will be able to mingle with one another freely in conversational spaces, and they can return to their jobs with ease. Depending on the location of a laboratory, such open layouts may even facilitate cross-departmental discussion.
Sustainability is an ongoing trend in lab design, and its importance will only continue to rise. Designers are becoming increasingly aware of wasteful practices, though not every company acts upon this knowledge.
At OnePointe Solutions, our team manufactures its own fixtures and furniture. This means that our team — unlike many competitors — can create unique custom-built solutions with renewable and salvaged materials, including eco-friendly WilsonArt® Solid Surface countertops.
Anything that may have once served your workers well, such as trusty stainless steel casements, can be refreshed and renovated, reducing your project’s environmental footprint.
There are other concerns, too.
In addition to maintaining a sustainable construction strategy, truly sustainable projects aim to follow the LEED and WELLS systems. These scores are determined by environmentally conscious organizations and achieving any level of certification is a prestigious accomplishment.
It may seem impossible to achieve any level of sustainability in a scientific laboratory, which requires plenty of energy-heavy machinery and equipment. However, skilled designers can do so with ease and practice.
Sustainable laboratories are possible; they simply require a bit of finesse.
Sustainability Trends in Lab Design
To support sustainability (and, in some cases, energy independence), many laboratories are using a mixture of design and function.
For example, lighting requirements can be reduced with strategic layouts. One of the most efficient setups to maximize natural light use is an open-concept space, one of the many reasons for this trend’s rise in popularity.
Equipping laboratories with smart timers, remote controls, and photosensitive setups bolsters their efficiency by shutting down unnecessary systems.
Designers have also begun experimenting with renewable energy and alternative ventilation setups, such as individually controlled micro-climates. These modifications are not meant to downplay the importance of safety measures and fume hoods; rather, they reduce the load and energy consumption of the central air systems.
External Sustainability Concerns
While contractors and designers can handle many of a laboratory’s critical sustainability problems, we can’t fix them all. If a lab wants to be truly sustainable, it will likely have to invest in cultural reprogramming.
Training programs that reduce water usage, cut excessive energy consumption, and sustainable work practices are more popular than ever. These lessons teach workers strategies for improving the ecological impact of their workplaces and — in many cases — their own productivity.
Need Help with Your Lab Design?
At OnePointe Solutions, we’re always keeping track of the latest and greatest innovations in laboratory design. Our designers and contractors have worked with an untold number of laboratories and produced remarkable results.
If you’ve been considering a laboratory redesign, remodel, relocation, or overhaul, then it’s time to contact us. We can discuss your project and assess your needs. Together, we’ll create a plan that achieves and exceeds your expectations. Call (866) 612-7312 today to get started.