When designing buildings, a lot of thought must go into them. This is to ensure that the building achieves its functionality, and to ensure that it is environmentally responsible and resource efficient through its life cycle. It is for this reason that when through a design process, there must be a design strategy, that will detail its design, construction, operation, maintenance, future renovations and possible demolition.
An example of such a building that has a design strategy is “The Queen’s Building” which was designed for the School of Engineering and Manufacturer on the city campus at De Montfort University in Leicester, England.
The Purpose of this building was to be an educational facility that would accommodate not only a large amount of students and staff but also facilitate the need for the building to sustainable, by designing it in such a way that it would be naturally ventilated and make use of natural lighting where in places where the first option would have been to use a electrical lighting method.
In this essay, I will speak on how this concept and design strategy was achieved, the design considerations that were made in an effort to have the building achieve a low carbon foot print, and to reflect on whether The Queens Building was successful in its design and construction as a sustainable building.
“The Concept for this design of the Queens Building was for a highly insulated, thermally-massive envelope with both a shallow plan and generous ceiling heights to facilitate natural ventilation and day lighting”, this according to Bil Bordass.
The Building would have three main areas which would adhere to its task of keeping the building naturally ventilated and with natural light. These were the Central Building, The Electrical Laboratories and The Mechanical Laboratories.
• The Central Building, its full height and open area would act as a vertical shaft bringing natural light to the floors below it (Light Well), and to act as a comfortable meeting area and smooth transition between the main areas.
• Electrical Laboratories which was used as two wings in the courtyard entrance which would regulate the amount of sun that penetrates the floors of the laboratories.
• Mechanical Laboratories which would be mechanically ventilated.
These mains areas focus were intended by their design to manipulate and regulate natural day lighting and natural ventilation for the entire building and using its brickwork envelope as a temperature stabilizer, all in an effort to minimize the use of energy that would have in turn be damaging to the environment and added to its carbon footprint.
1. ELECTRICAL LABS
2. MAIN ENTRANCE
3. MAIN CONCOURSE
5. GENERAL LABS
6. HEAT AND POWER PLANT
7. COMPUTER CENTER
8. MECHANICAL LABS
Natural Ventilation played a major role in the design on this building as it seem that where possible, every inch was used as a way to keep areas of the building naturally ventilated. The labs that had a narrow floor plan were fitted with operable windows to allow for cross ventilation. The main floor which has a larger floor plan cannot rely on the windows so then came eight large chimneys which help to exhaust hot air. The chimney rely on the stack effect to operate, which means, when the difference in the air between the top and bottom is greater than the air that is outside , the hot air vents out, which in turn allowing for cool air to come into the building to cool it and its occupants. Also in the Auditoria, there are louvered windows which allows fresh air to enter through the north façade by means of plenums below floors and wall inlets. But to put it in a simpler standpoint, what I view from Queen’s building in terms of it ventilation strategy is that, large chimneys were used to create a stack effect and allow the building to ventilate hot air out and allow cold air in and then cross-ventilation through the use of windows and louvers. There’s also the use of ridge exhaust ventilators which can be found the mechanical laboratories which are controlled through motorized dampers. The envelope of the building played an important role in the ventilation strategy as well, as it used brickwork which creates a large thermal mass which also helps to stabilize temperature fluxes, which is was perhaps used for night cooling to remove the need for air conditioning the building at night.
NATURAL DAYLIGHT STRATEGY
To ensure as much natural lighting to enter the building, simple design solutions such as window were used to the sides of the buildings, most with deep reveals, and overhanging eaves to regulate and minimize the amount of sunlight that gets into the building, and also to control the amount of heat transfer from the sun rays.
Within open space areas of the building with high ceilings, roof lights and North windows were used to allow sun penetration. Gabled glazing which also acted as ridge ventilators in the mechanical laboratories were used to allow light in. Even down to small details such as having the walls painted white were used as a design consideration to allow light to bounce off interior spaces. Glass brick ramps were also used in the main circulation areas to allow light to pass through the lower spaces of the building.
The architects spared no detail when it came to there design strategy.
This approach in the designing strategy of the Queen’s Building seems to have been successful in creating a sustainable building, and they approached it very well in terms on ventilation and lighting systems that were used such as the chimneys to give the stack effect and the operable windows which allowed for cross ventilation. Even the use of different materials internally such as the glass bricks to me was a good touch. But where they succeeded in their design strategy, they failed in carrying it out properly which created a few service issues.