LocationDaventry, Northamptonshire NN11, UK
ClientUniversity of Northampton / Daventry Council
From the architect. Consarc Architects unveil the iCon Innovation Center, an innovative low-carbon office building and conference centre, the first commercial building in the UK to use phase-change material.
The 4000m2 building is a BREEAM Excellent exemplar project which uses less than 15 Kg of CO2/m2/yr and showcases the feasibility of achieving maximum energy efficiency and zero carbon status via sustainable design and construction techniques and integration of renewable energy technologies. It utilises features such as a timber frame construction, passive ventilation systems, efficient heat recovery and the first commercial application of phase-change materials to limit overheating.
A key design feature of the design is the responsive Showcase façade, constructed from sustainable timber. The façade performs two major functions utilizing backlit cold cathode lights. By day the façade will showcase imagery relevant to iHub energy use, providing a public narrative of the centre’s sustainable credentials and by night the façade will project a responsive graphical representation of the comparatively benchmarked performance of each incubation unit against its peers through regular assessment in six set categories, as per the iCon assessment method.
Consarc won the £7m project to house the Sustainable Construction Innovation Network (iNet) in an international competition organized by the RIBA in 2008. The brief was to link centres of excellence in the built environment with entrepreneurial businesses to promote innovative and sustainable technologies.Adaptability of space is crucial; in a bid to extend its maximum lifetime, the building is capable of lending itself to changing functional and spatial needs and includes flexible start up offices, IT services, rentable meeting rooms and central facilities such as a reception, a social break out space and a restaurant. The building also features flexible conference and exhibition spaces that can be used by the local community for events and performances.
The internal arrangement mirrors the intellectual processes of the iCon, complementing innovative thinking and motivates and nurturing entrepreneurial activity. Incubation units are contained to the North of the site shielded from traffic noise. These flexible, naturally ventilated spaces preserve the optimum aspect for the research facilities.
Adjacent to these and at the heart of the design, is a dramatic Etfe covered exhibition street, with gallery level links, ideal for prototype testing. To the South, and abounding the public realm is the Showcase suite host to large volume spaces. These include reception, conferencing, meeting and catering requirements.
The site is located at the junction of A425, Northern Way and A4256 Eastern Way on the approach to Daventry in a prominent location on the edge of the town centre. As called for in the brief the design responds to the site orientation and level changes providing a variety of amenity spaces and acts as a ‘kick start’ development for the larger area as identified in the Regional Economic Strategy.