Passivhaus Affiliate

University of Leicester's Centre for Medicine nears completion

The Centre for Medicine building at the University of Leicester is on track to be open for the new academic year, and claim the title of the UK's largest non-residential project built to the Passivhaus standard.

The 12,836m2 complex wil provide teaching space, lecture theatres and research facilities, allowing over 2000 academics, researchers, clinicans and students to work together on the same site for the first time.

The £42 million project being built by PHT Patron member Willmott Dixon, who are acting as main contractor, with consultancy from experienced Passivhaus experts WARM: Low Energy Building Practice. 

Project progress - March 2014, September 2015, March 2015. Image credits: Paul Smith, Mainly Mono.

Precast Cladding

Off-site constructed precast concrete cladding panels faced with brick slips have recently been installed, in addition to a sophisticated curtain walling system. High-tech cladding panels form an airtight seal with the glazing, whilst carbon fibre brick ties have been specified in order to minimise thermal bridging.

Concrete cladding faced with brick slips. Image credit: Paul Smith, Mainly Mono.

Construction Challenges

The project team conducted regular toolbox talks with site operatives in order to express the importance of quality installation and attention to detail, ensuring that the building will perform as designed once it is complete.

The constrained site provided further challenges for the contractors as there was a lack of storage space for materials. A 'just-in-time' delivery approach was implemented, in addition to the tower crane being positioned withing the footprint of the building.


The Centre for Medicine will have super levels of insulation, triple glazing, and we have a 1.6km underground heat recovery pipe network which will effectively provide free air conditioning and temperature control to the building... This building, mainly because of its leading-edge design, will be ten times more energy efficient than a normal building.

Paul Nesbitt, Operations Manger - Willmott Dixon

Other sustainable Features

  • Ground air heat exhanger system: consisting of 1.6km of 'earth tubes' installed to depths of up to 6m deep, will pre-cool or heat air entering the building by utilising the constant temperature of the ground.CtrforMedicinePanorama1a_01.jpg

  • Heat recovery: Instead of a standard MVHR system, a high-efficiency thermal wheel, also known as a rotary heat exchanger has been specified to recover heat from ventilated air.

  • Renewable energy: 150m2 PV array and CHP system.

  • Bio-diversity: A green wall and roof has been designed to attract insects and birds.


The project is being funded by £32m from resources and a £10m public appeal which has already raised a fifth of the target. For further information about the scheme and to donate, click here.


This new centre will give Leicester medical students probably the most advanced environment and facilities in which to study medicine in the UK.

Professor David Wynford-Thomas, Dean of the School of Medicine


Key Team:

Client: University of Leicester

Architects: Associated Architects

Main Contractor: Willmott Dixon

M&E: NG Bailey

Passivhaus Consultants: WARM

Structural & Civil Engineers: Ramboll 

Technical Consultants: Couch Perry Wilkes



Further information:

Previous PHT news story - University giants battle for largest UK non-residential Passivhaus25th November 2014

Previous PHT news story - Leicester Medical Teaching Centre aims for Passivhaus certification1st December 2013

27th May 2015

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