Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA)

Building Use


Procurement Method


Why buy from Portakabin

Project Features

  • Two laboratories
  • Preparation areas
  • Freezer room
  • Cold store
  • Two hot rooms
  • Toilet and changing facilities
  • Isolation showers and offices
  • Services distribution void
  1. The Requirements

    The Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in veterinary scientific research. The VLA needed a new high-specification laboratory in Surrey, to meet the containment and operating requirements for DEFRA Category 4 specified animal pathogens.

  2. The Solution

    Portakabin was awarded the £2.5m contract to manufacture, install and fit out the self-contained laboratory building, which would accommodate new research and diagnostic facilities.

    The Portakabin Design and Build solution was manufactured off site in York and delivered to site within a challenging six-month construction period to meet the VLA’s programme requirements. The building was installed over one weekend, minimising any disruption to existing operations on the site.

    Keith Thomas, Project Manager at Cyril Sweett, says: “Portakabin performed very well at every level – from head office to site management. Their attention to detail was excellent and the laboratories were finished to an exceptionally high standard.”

    The new facility comprises two laboratories, preparation areas, a freezer room, cold store, two hot rooms, toilet and changing facilities, isolation showers and offices. There is a full-height services distribution void on the upper floor, which allows easy access to all major plant serving the laboratories, as well as enabling filters and light fittings to be maintained from above without disrupting the working laboratories.

    Alongside the building is a two-storey plant room, which contains the air-handling equipment, safe change filters and other plant to support the building services.

    Portakabin project managed the highly complex fitting out, working with its partner MSS Clean Technology – specialists in the design and supply of clean rooms and controlled environments.

I am very impressed at the quality of this new laboratory, and the speed with which it was delivered and commissioned. It will prove a major asset, significantly increasing our capacity to deliver scientific projects for DEFRA in areas that have come under increasing pressure.

Professor Steve Edwards, Chief Executive, Veterinary Laboratories Agency

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