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Project - Essex Business School
Contractor - Morgan Sindall
Client - University of Essex
Architect - BDP
Specialist Timber and Superstructure Engineer - Engenuiti
Supplier - B&K Structures
Technology - CLT
The University of Essex Business School has a reputation for excellent teaching, ground-breaking research and exciting business collaborations, which deliver rigorous and challenging education programmes combined with a range of real life business situations. Ranked second in the country for research programmes, it was essential that the business school's new building reflected the University's vision for growth, excellence and sustainability.
Designed with architects BDP, the new School comprises of a three storey main building, single storey lecture theatre and a winter garden in an 'Eden Project' style dome. The building features a range of innovative sustainable elements including structural timber for the superstructure, a green sedum roof and photovoltaic cells.
The curved timber frame and timber clad main building is shaped so that it benefits from natural day light and ventilation. The roof of the business school is covered in photovoltanics, which take full advantage of the south orientation in order to provide renewable energy for a combined heat and power installation. This will enable the net export of energy to offset carbon emissions from the building.
The lecture theatre is formed through a geodesic structure - comprising glulam, steel nodes, CLT and wall cassettes. The wall cassette panels were assembled between the raking glulam columns. Standard sized larch glulam beams were double glued together to achieve the long curved members.
At the heart of the development, is a winter garden with an Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene (ETFE) clad timber roof, which acts as an environmental buffer zone, supporting the passive ventilation and heating strategy of the three storey building whilst also creating a stunning central gathering space.
The use of prefabricated glulam columns, glulam floor beams and CLT floor decks meant that large structural elements were delivered to site on a just-in-time schedule ready for assembly, minimising health and safety issues and reducing the crane loads required and erection programme. Structural timber can be installed without the need for wet trades and constructed with the aid of cranes and lightweight power tools. This makes the construction quieter, quicker, less resource intensive and reduces waste on-site. Using timber also helps to save energy over the life of a building, as its cellular structure provides outstanding thermal insulation: 15 times better than concrete, 400 times better than steel and 1700 times better than aluminium.
The use of timber on this innovative education building has significantly contributed to it becoming the UK's first zero-carbon business school and achieving its aim of a BREEAM Excellent rating.
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