- Client: South Gloucestershire and Stroud College
- Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Hoare Lea
- City: Berkeley
- Country: United Kingdom
Text description provided by the architects. Hewitt Studios LLP have recently completed the first phase of the conversion and refurbishment of a former nuclear research and engineering building at Berkeley Centre on the Severn Estuary in the UK.
The project provides SGS College with a renewable energy and engineering skills centre supported by both local enterprise funding and international technology partners, such as Schneider, Welink and Bosch.
The delivery of a reinvigorated, dynamic and sustainable facility is key to this offer – the building is designed to become an exemplar of regenerative investment and an education tool in its own right.
Elements of the building fabric will be used to deliver specific areas of curriculum (e.g. solar pv and timber construction), whilst the responsible re-use of an existing building sets a low-carbon precedent for future developments to follow.
Green initiatives include an integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) facade, thermally efficient envelope, innovative heat-recovery ventilation system, LED lighting and low-impact timber structure.
The Laminated Veneer Lumber solution was chosen for a variety reasons:
- It allowed for a rapid on-site build and limited the associated environmental disruption.
- It was effectively self-finished, requiring no lining or applied finishes.
- It gave the flexibility for services to be fixed anywhere.
- It was carbon-sequestering, with only certified timber from sustainably managed sources used.
- It created a better environment than a steel-framed building; warmer / softer / quieter.
- It was cost-comparable with a steel frame (when ‘knock-on’ savings considered)
- It provides a striking contrast with the existing structure, helping users to read the building’s story.
Elsewhere, the design employs sustainable timber cladding, minimising waste through use of plywood in standard 1200mm sheets. Its distinctive pattern is based upon the dazzle camouflage of World War I warships. Rather than ‘daze and confuse’, it is here intended to reduce the visual mass of the lower levels of accommodation. It is also perforated and backed with acoustic material to suppress reverberation within the main hall.
BIPV panels will shortly be to a screen suspended from the building envelope. They will not only generate electricity, but will shade the glazing behind from the southerly sun and act as a wind-break in the exposed estuary location. They use latest generation thin-film solar cells which offer a cost-effective power output (c.100kW) and good low-light performance.
Hewitt Studios are also developing plans for a site-wide renewables package with the ultimate aim of becoming a zero-carbon campus. This includes a government-backed solar at scale scheme (with building, car park and ground mounted pvs), tidal power, wind generation and battery storage. Impact will be minimised with significant areas of habitat creation (supported by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust) and a comprehensive green transport strategy including a cross-campus electric minibus infrastructure.
The result will be an exciting new hub for the sustainable energy industry; raising aspirations, attracting young people to stem careers and providing skilled people to fill the technology skills shortage, all within a sustainable and low-impact environment.
Product Description. Steel would have been the obvious choice for the structural modifications, but Hewitt Studios instead chose a combination of HESS Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) beams, glued-laminated (GLULAM) columns and cross-laminated (CLT) floors and balconies. This palette of pre-fabricated, sustainable and attractive timber products was chosen for its speed of construction, ease of fixing / finishing, carbon-sequestering credentials and excellent thermal and acoustic properties.