FaberMaunsell delivers sustainable design for Bicton Arena

FaberMaunsell has developed a sustainable design for the Grade 1 listed Bicton Arena of Clinton Devon Estates.
In designing a new management centre at the Grade I English Heritage listed Bicton Arena, for Clinton Devon Estates, consulting engineers FaberMaunsell had to take account of strict planning restrictions, as well as the client’s requirements for a sustainable building. The result is a building that exceeds the requirements of Part L 2006. The management centre is a single storey building with an undercroft and basement and is designed in an elliptical form to soften contours and blend with the landscape. The open-plan office space has exposed soffits to maximise available thermal mass, enabling the use of natural ventilation, with flushing of external air night to cool the slab. The sedum roof also helps to iron out any peaks and troughs in temperature. Air is introduced to the open-plan area through low-level glazing and extracted through high-level rooflights, creating a stack effect to draw warm, stale air out of the building. Windows and rooflights are motor-actuated and linked to a building-management system (BMS) that monitors internal and external temperatures. The ventilation is then adjusted by varying the degree of opening. In the case of meeting rooms, air is also introduced at low level and extracted at high level into a transfer system that delivers it to the roof vents. Occupants have a manual over-ride facility so they can adjust ventilation rates to suit their preferences. The system will then revert to default settings after a pre-set time, rather than relying on people remembering to re-adjust it. Space heating is provided by a 50 kW wood-chip boiler serving low-level heat emitters in the open-plan area and traditional radiators in meeting rooms. Use of a wood chip boiler was a key part of the design as the estate wished to use its own timber from its woodlands and thus establish a sustainable supply of wood chips. To maximise combustion efficiency, the client has also installed a facility for processing and drying wood to ensure the wood chips are of a consistent size and moisture content. This enables the boiler to operate at maximum efficiency with relatively simple controls, compared to the sophisticated level of control that would be required for fuel of variable quality. To minimise maintenance requirements, the boiler is fitted with automatic ash removal. The wood-chip store only needs to be filled two or three times a year, and fuel is fed to the boiler using an automatic augur and screw system. Throughout the project the client maintained a high level of involvement, working closely with the design team at a detailed level. This level of interest, combined with a commitment to the principles of sustainability has led to a building that performs well in its own right, rather than relying on sophisticated technologies to offset the impact of a compromised design.
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