THE University of Edinburgh is embarking on a £40 million project to transform its biological sciences school into a new learning and research hub.

The five-year scheme, which is still dependent on funding being secured, aims to create new buildings and refurbish or demolish existing ones at the university's science and engineering school.

The university is currently advertising for architects to help bring the vision to life, in what will consume a large amount of its redevelopment budget over the next few years.

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David Leach, head of the school of biosciences, said: "Life sciences in Edinburgh University is rated 22nd in the world, number five in the UK and number one in Scotland. But some of our buildings are past their sell-by date.

"We want to create a fantastic state-of-the-art teaching facility for students, including labs, teaching studios, lecture theatres and tutorial rooms, as well as relocating some of our research facilities.

"The space will service other schools as well. We are very interested in facilitating interaction between different disciplines. All of the discoveries in science happen at the boundaries between different disciplines. We want to encourage different people to get together and create that mixing pot of ideas."

The biosciences school is split over two sites at King's Buildings, to the south of the city, but also has a small presence at the BioQuarter in Little France. It houses 660 staff and well in excess of 1000 students.