Underfloor air conditioning delivers flexibility at Farnborough Airport

The use of AET’s Flexible Space concept to provide air-conditioning from under the floor in this new building at Farnborough Airport will considerably simplify future changes to internal layout.
Not only were significant savings in installation time achieved by the AET’s Flexible Space underfloor air-conditioning concept for a new building at Farnborough Airport, but subsequent changes to internal layout will also be achieved more quickly and with minimal disruption. The system was specified for the £9.8 million terminal and operations building by REID Architecture and consulting engineer Buro Happold. It is installed throughout all areas of the 5000 m2 building, with the exception of cores and the main atrium/reception. The building is designed as a 3-storey office and operations wing. It offers high-quality office space for commercial tenants and conference facilities for business travellers. It is the third in a family of buildings designed and delivered by REID Architecture. Brian Johnson, an associate with Buro Happold, says, ‘Key drivers for the specification of the underfloor system were the need for a high level of flexibility and adaptability within the office areas. A system was needed that could be adapted to change with minimum time, cost and disruption to the client and the occupants. In addition, capital and running costs were important considerations.’ The Flexible Space concept uses the plenum under a raised access floor as a ‘duct’, with the building divided into a number of zones depending on the potential use and occupancy density of the areas. The underfloor void is divided into supply- and return-air channels — with chilled or heated air delivered by a conditioned-air module. Supply air is drawn up into the occupied space by fan-assisted terminal units (FTUs) recessed into the floor. Return air passes through grilles in the floor and back to the conditioned-air module. Since they are not restricted by duct or pipe connections, FTUs and grilles can be easily interchanged with floor panels to reconfigure the system in response to changes in office layout. Reconfiguring a space is much simpler than with an air-conditioning system above a false ceiling.
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