Professor Nick Tyler has been awarded a £9m grant by EPSRC as part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) to create a new enhanced and extended version of the PAMELA facility. This will be called the People-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL). This grant will be supplemented by a further £5m towards the equipment cost and the first 5 years operating costs from the UCL Engineering. The new facility will be located in East London and will be considerably larger than the present facility and be able to carry out several experiments at the same time, or very large experiments using the whole space. PEARL is due to open in 2018, at which point PAMELA will transfer activities to the new location. PEARL will also be able to support a high level of public engagement activities, including museum exhibitions, music, dance and art performances as well as expanded and more comprehensive versions of the experiments undertaken in PAMELA. PEARL is part of the £140m UK Co-laboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), which is led by Professor Brian Collins and was announced by the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2016 and involves the development of 11 new or upgraded facilities in 14 universities around the UK.
Professor Brian Collins, UKCRIC convenor, said:
“Understanding how to invest in, build, operate and maintain resilient and adaptable high-quality infrastructure based services, such as good public health, safe mobility, heating, lighting and sustainable economic activity, is vital to the wellbeing of citizens in the UK and across the world.
UKCRIC will provide the science, engineering and research base for delivering that understanding in a low carbon context in UK industry and Government, and for international partners.”
Professor Nick Tyler said:
‘PEARL is a great opportunity to put people in the centre of infrastructure and city research as an explicit component of the UK government’s approach to investment in these sectors in the future. It is a radical departure from ‘business as usual’ and marks recognition of the work we have been doing in this area over the last 10 years in PAMELA and elsewhere.”
PEARL is already linked with the NHS/PHE Healthy New Town at Barking Riverside, where 10,800 new homes are being developed, along with the associated needs such as healthcare facilities, schools, shops, new transport links etc. with an objective of focusing on making the built environment positively healthy for all members of the community, but taking into account especially the needs of people with dementia and older people more generally. We have also just had funding confirmed for a ‘pop-up PEARL’ to be located in Barking, which will provide a location for community participation and engagement in devising the research programme for PEARL. This will be a pilot for similar pop-up facilities to link PEARL to the other 9 Healthy New Towns in the UK and others overseas.