Forensic Science Laboratory Design & Refurbishment

Axiom’s principals have designed and commissioned a number of forensic laboratories – from full scale general forensic laboratories to specialist units within laboratories or within other specialist organisations. Reflecting the continual advancement of science, each of these laboratories has incorporated new features to make them state-of-the-art at the time and enabled the organisations involved to develop their reputations for innovation and excellence in forensic science.

With its deep understanding of forensic science in particular, and forensic laboratories in general, the Axiom team has developed a set of 20 principles which govern the design and build of new forensic facilities. Not all of these may be relevant to each new build, but together they encapsulate the features that need to be considered to ensure proper and efficient functionality.

Track record examples of innovation include Search laboratories featuring eg. scrubs changing pods, mobile work stations and a range of easy clean surfaces and fittings. Professor Gallop’s laboratories were the first to introduce the wearing of surgeon style scrubs for searching activities to avoid risks of inter- and intra-case contamination. Specialist fireams facility situated next to national collections of firearms and ammunition and containing full length firing range fitted with the latest bullet capture and chronometric measuring devices, and with a suite of supporting laboratories including for fingerprints and DNA recovered from weapons and ammunition. Dedicated DNA profiling laboratory for analysing both reference samples (mainly mouth swabs) and crime stains for entry onto the UK National DNA Database. How was this innovative? Specialist forensic pathology unit to administer the work of the largest group of forensic pathologists in the UK and associated histopathology laboratory and temperature controlled pathology sample archive.

These principles of forensic laboratory design take into account, for example:

The nature of the different types of facility required within the overall forensic footprint

Which parts of the laboratory need to be close to which other parts, and which need to be well separated

How to establish and maintain unbroken chains of custody within the laboratory

Environmental features which need to be incorporated into the design and how best to handle Health and Safety issues

Ways of making the laboratory visually attractive and accessible to essential customers/visitors without compromising     the work it does or necessary security arrangements


What to do with inevitable accumulations of casefiles and evidential materials


What additional features might be useful in national facilities in terms of raising the profile of the laboratory and facilitating international cooperation and data sharing


Working with carefully selected laboratory architect and construction partners, enables Axiom to act as the gateway to the whole world of successful forensic laboratory construction and operations. Key partners include:

Architects & Planners

A team of highly experienced architects and planners who are experts in the fields of laboratory, healthcare, research and academic architecture. Team members have assisted in the planning and design of 9 forensic laboratories and more than 30 associated laboratories and police facilities. They bring proven international expertise to this highly specialised building type


An independent global consultancy providing a range of support services to the construction and property industry throughout the world. These include project, cost and construction management and a range of complementary services. Their client portfolio includes end users, developers, contractors, financial institutions, NGOs and local and central governments.


One of the leading building, civil and electromechanical engineering contractors with over five decades of experience in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. The activities and accumulated expertise of the Company cover the entire spectrum of construction enabling it to undertake almost every kind of project.

Track record examples

Designing and/or adjusting original designs for laboratories in the Middle East and Africa

Covering all mainstream forensic disciplines and some additional national facilities

From small facilities up to 7,500gsm on five storeys

For training, databasing and research

All designs obeyed Axiom’s principles of forensic laboratory design and reflected all necessary cultural requirements.