FaberMaunsell is a star performer for theatre refurbishment

Energy-efficient building services are a key feature in the £7.9 million refurbishment and extension of His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen.
Aberdeen’s renowned climate has been exploited in designing low-energy ventilation as part of the £7.9 million extension and refurbishment of the 100-year-old His Majesty’s Theatre in the city in designing building services for this Grade A listed building dating from the early 1900s. Average ambient temperatures are 17 to 18°C, which have been exploited through the extensive use of displacement ventilation. Work involved refurbishing the existing theatre and constructing an extension to house a new reception, booking office, foyer, restaurant and dining facilities, rehearsal room and green room. Faber Maunsell became involved with the project at an early stage, carrying out a study to support Aberdeen City Council’s application for funding from the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Enterprise Grampian. Having originally won the contract to design building services, FaberMaunsell’s scope was extended to include multi-media and external lighting in support of the councils’ plans to bring the building to life. As part of the design team, FaberMaunsell worked with the council’s environment and infrastructure service to ensure that the building-services design strategy met the council’s goals for the project. At the heart of the design philosophy was the need to modernise services in the existing building in a way that was sympathetic to the original design, while ensuring that sustainability was a key consideration for both existing and new-build work. In the auditorium, for example, new flooring work made possible the introduction of a displacement-ventilation system with the minimum of disruption. Floor diffusers are incorporated into the new flooring, using a brass anodised finish to complement the period fittings in this space. In other public areas, innovative engineering techniques were used to integrate displacement-ventilation grilles into period furniture to provide a discreet solution. Displacement ventilation is also used in the new foyer, reception and rehearsal areas of His Majesty’s Theatre. The ventilation systems are served by new air-handling units, free-cooling chillers and high-efficiency boilers — all located in existing plantrooms. Refrigerants have been chosen for sustainability, and inverter controls are used on pumps and fans. At the heart of the building-services systems is a new open-protocol building-management system that integrates the services in the old and new buildings. The BMS also integrates with the new booking system for the theatre. FaberMaunsell’s innovative design has achieved a very efficient design with low cost of ownership to complement Aberdeen City Council’s desire to enliven and rejuvenate a much loved facility that has been at the heart of the city’s cultural activities for may years. HMT, as it is known locally, is due to re-open this autumn.

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