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National Buried Infrastructure Facility (NBIF)

One of a kind facility for research, education and training in buried infrastructure-ground interaction.

Front facade of the NBIF building against a blue cloudy sky


Birmingham, United Kingdom


University of Birmingham


Associated Architects

NBIF is an exemplar facility for research, education and training in buried infrastructure-ground interaction, soil stabilisation and improvement, geophysical sensing, pipeline detection and condition assessment, tunnelling and trenchless technologies. The facility is home to a large pit scaling 25x10m, measuring 5m in depth, which can be subdivided into smaller bays, with moveable floor sections to simulate subsurface ground displacement. There is also material storage and test assembly areas, pipeline and small-structure testing rigs, material characterisation facilities and visualisation suites.

A canal running parallel to the site meant the drainage solution had to be robust enough to allow services access to the building. The facility includes for bespoke internal and external ground-based water loops for experimental testing purposes, including access chambers, industrial type service points within the test areas for power, data, compressed air and water, and specialist dust extract ventilation within the pit.

Robert van Zyl commented, "implementing BIM beyond just a 3D model allowed us to identify any clashes in design which led to an evaluation of the existing building services, architectural and structural design. The model was produced in line with the client’s procedures which include data entry for asset commissioning and maintenance information."

Key fact

Part of UK Collaboration for Research and Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC)


Key fact

A hydraulic floor system allows the simulation of ground movement and differing conditions


Rob van Zyl in a dark suit and tie with office blurred background

Rob van Zyl

Partner, Building Services

View bio

We worked closely with the university to conduct the multi-disciplinary design whilst the campus remained fully open, ensuring their services were not compromised.