The coronavirus pandemic has prompted an urgent need for medical research, manufacturing, and advanced facilities, which has inspired unprecedented growth in the life science industry.

This year, we continue to see more businesses seek to convert conventional commercial space into laboratories and R&D facilities.

Although many components of lab design will always be specific to a client’s needs, good lab design is currently trending towards certain common objectives.

Air Ventilation and Quality

The pandemic has highlighted the need of employee safety in work environments. The quality of indoor air inside labs is important not only for workers’ comfort but also for their health.

Poor indoor air quality has been tied to a variety of occupational health issues, with some specific diseases being linked to specific air contaminants or indoor environments.

These factors include poor ventilation (lack of outside air), problems controlling temperature, high or low humidity, recent remodeling, and other activities in or near a building that can affect the fresh air coming into the building. The right ventilation and air quality can help control issues relating to biological hazards.

Attention to air quality can help to preserve the value of the company’s assets, health and productivity can take a hit in a laboratory where there is poor air quality.

Collaborative Spaces

Formal project rooms, conference areas, and demo spaces are becoming integral parts of lab facilities, especially when informal seating and casual meeting spaces are being reduced.

These areas encourage creative collaboration while facilitating the development of groundbreaking research and products.

Program Shift

As remote work has become more common for many job types, the space required for offices has decreased. As a result, facility managers and developers are converting vacant or underutilized office space into lab and support spaces.

Flexibility and Adaptability

The pandemic has emphasised how quickly priorities can swing. In facing the pandemic laboratorians have said that a renewed sense of teamwork inside their labs, and outside with clinicians and manufacturers, continues to drive flexibility and adaptability.

New Programming Needs

There has been increased demand in the architectural, engineering, and construction industries for larger cold storage and management solutions.

Experts say there are not enough cold storage facilities to store the raw materials needed for vaccine development and for vaccines which often need to be stored at highly-regulated low temperatures.

Many labs require cold rooms to accommodate the receiving of raw materials and purposefully designed solutions for the shipping of finished goods.

Managers are seeking solutions for the efficient distribution and storage of chemicals and specialty gas that will reduce the cost of meeting the regulatory requirements within facilities.


Sustainability has been of interest for many years, with many facility managers trying to reduce their carbon footprint by design improvements to repurpose existing buildings and spaces.

Alternative energy sources, such as solar power and energy recovery systems are also being considered to reduce energy consumption.

Engineering systems are being designed to include built-in redundancies, occupancy sensors, and elaborate utility control systems for labs and buildings.

Many trends for lab design in 2021 are a reaction to the ongoing pandemic crisis, we expect that they are here to stay. The design of your lab space can either help or hinder productivity which means that keeping up with trends can pay dividends for years to come.

About Westlab Pty Ltd

Since 1993, Westlab has been dedicated to supplying the laboratory sector with innovative and reliable products and services. The company has built a solid reputation as a reputable provider with a focus on exceptional customer support.

In 2011 Westlab introduced its Projects division to leverage its extensive knowledge in the laboratory industry and deliver further value to clients. Westlab’s Projects division focuses on providing organisations with laboratory design, modular furniture, and joinery solutions.

Some of the sectors where Westlab offers its solutions include Universities, School science and STEM facilities, TAFE, Quality Assurance, Research facilities, Pathology, Life sciences, and Physical testing laboratories.

Westlab is an ISO 9001 certified company and strives to deliver fast, friendly and hassle-free service to the science industry (guaranteeing global quality solutions at competitive rates).