© 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd. The second generation of large scale interferometric gravitational wave (GW) detectors will be limited by quantum noise over a wide frequency range in their detection band. Further sensitivity improvements for future upgrades or new detectors beyond the second generation motivate the development of measurement schemes to mitigate the impact of quantum noise in these instruments. Two strands of development are being pursued to reach this goal, focusing both on modifications of the well-established Michelson detector configuration and development of different detector topologies. In this paper, we present the design of the worlds first Sagnac speed meter (SSM) interferometer, which is currently being constructed at the University of Glasgow. With this proof-of-principle experiment we aim to demonstrate the theoretically predicted lower quantum noise in a Sagnac interferometer compared to an equivalent Michelson interferometer, to qualify SSM for further research towards an implementation in a future generation large scale GW detector, such as the planned Einstein telescope observatory.