Advantages and Disadvantages of an Open Laboratory Floor Plan
Open plan or open floor plan is defined as any floor plan which makes use of large, open spaces and minimizes the use of small, enclosed rooms. A term used in architectural and interior design, open plan is a trending approach at designing an interactive workspace with fewer walls. Laboratories have embraced this new concept to promote collaborative team-based research. Multidisciplinary teams share space and equipment bringing various expertise together in a cost-effective way.
As laboratories facilities started to implement this new floor plan design, researchers have mixed reviews on the new design choice.
If you are planning to implement an open floor plan here is a list of the pros and cons of an open laboratory space.
Interaction and Team-Based Research
The purpose of an open plan was to encourage multidisciplinary scientist to collaborate with each other. This allows two or more academic disciplines to approach a problem with multiple points of views.
Another large push towards an open floor plan is cost. An open floor plan requires fewer walls leading to a simpler air ducting system and encourages research teams to share supplies and equipment resulting in a lower cost to remodel and equip a laboratory.
With fewer walls between the department, mobile furniture can be implemented to allow researchers to easily rearrange furniture around the lab. Unlike traditional fixed casework, workbench and casework can be moved around to optimize workflow.
Noisy & Distracting
An average commercial laboratory will support up to 100 staff members at one time. A laboratory can quickly become noisy with projects being conducted and researchers discussing ideas. Noise can cause a scientist to be distracted from their work or difficult to focus.
Lack of Privacy
The lack of walls prevents lab personnel access to a private room where they can close a door to have confidential conversations or a quiet space to think.
Misuse of Equipment and Supplies
Researchers have complained that equipment and supplies are mistreated or misused by other works. The misuse of equipment can lead to damage and also causes tension between lab personnel.
If hazardous chemicals are not contained correctly can expose a neighboring team to this hazard. A single spill can lead to the shut down of an entire laboratory.
Does this mean open-plan laboratories are a bad idea? This depends on the type of projects being worked on and lab personnel personalities. A combination of both open and closed plans may be a better solution in certain situations.