The Robotics Living Lab (RoLL), part of Manchester Fashion Institute and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council will serve as a space for fashion researchers, designers, and manufacturers to harness the potential of robotic technologies.

The primary objective is to facilitate high-value, low-volume fashion production in the UK, aligning with the growing demand for eco-friendly and socially responsible practices in the fashion industry.

RoLL aims to foster collaboration with small businesses, facilitating research initiatives that will contribute to bringing fashion manufacturing back to the UK. Through the use of new technologies, the lab seeks to develop innovative, carbon-neutral, and sustainable fashion technologies.

The low-carbon pavilion, constructed with timber and straw, will be a prominent feature at MFI, with completion expected by the summer. The single-storey timber-framed building, designed by sustainable architect firm Bennetts Associates, not only offers an adaptable and functional workspace but also includes exhibition and events space for showcasing the work and research conducted at the Robotics Living Lab.

Architect Sam Gills from Bennetts Associates said: “The pavilion meets Manchester Metropolitan University’s climate commitments entirely, embedding circularity and low-carbon design whilst also acting as a landmark space on its All Saints campus for fashion designers and manufacturers.”

This project is in line with Manchester Met’s Leadership in Sustainability Strategy, which commits it to being a beacon of sustainable development practice, working towards a zero-carbon future and putting sustainability at the heart of everything it does.

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 The university has maintained its position as a top-three sustainable university for 11 consecutive years after ranking second in the People and Planet University League.

The RoLL building incorporates biogenic and regenerative materials that capture carbon in their production or life cycle. The use of UK Douglas fir timber frame and straw-insulated wall panels exemplifies the project’s commitment to reducing upfront carbon and capturing carbon from the atmosphere.

Professor Susan Postlethwaite, director of RoLL and Professor of Fashion Technologies at MFI said: “This beautiful structure will help support us in showcasing and drawing attention to the important work of the lab.”

Bennetts Associates, following modern methods of construction, has ensured the building’s efficiency by maximising off-site manufacturing. The design allows for future disassembly, prompting the recycling and reuse of materials, in line with the circular economy principles embraced by MFI.

In October, fashion and textile academics from the UK’s University of Manchester argued sustainable fashion and sportswear needs Government focus as 1m tonnes of textiles are disposed of every year in the UK with 300,000 tonnes ending up in landfill or incineration.