The new Information Services Building at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, designed by the architects Allies and Morrison, provides a major extension to the college's paper-based library facilities, adding 2000 m2 of flexible accommodation comprising information technology and language resource facilities.
The client's brief for the new building required its facade, which occupies a prominent position facing on to the A20 Lewisham Way, to present a new public front tothe college and be a 'showpiece.' The architectural response was for the facade to be predominantly glazed thereby providing a highly visible view into the open plan of the building, which should be as impressive at night as during the day.
This approach required the designers to resolve the conflicting requirements of a highly glazed facade with the intensive useage of computer screens on the upper floors. This left them with three issues to address.
1. To overcome the practical problem of natural light entering the building and causing glare to the computer screens, control of 'sun glare' and reflections on to the VDUs.
2. To maximize the use of daylight, not only to allow views out of the building, but also to economize on the use of electrical energy for the artificial lighting.
3. To eliminate any heat gains from direct sunlight sothat there should be no need for air-conditioning.
The solution adopted for the levels above ground floor on the north-east elevation consists of floor to ceiling clear glazing, with external vertical fins which not only control glare from the sun, but also allow generous external views. At night the impression of the building is of a luminous and transparent facade, thus fulfilling the client's brief.
Collaboration between the architects and consultants Max Fordham has produced an elegant and practical daylight solution tothe problem posed by the universal adoption of computer screens (VDUs) when used adjacent to a completely glazed facade.
To control glare a series of external vertical fins or screens (brise soleil) have been fixed to the glazing. The exact nature of the fins resulted from model studies to determine the size and patterning of the holes required to give the required control, and the desired transparency. The metal fins have a 12 per cent free area, consisting of perforations on a grid of 10.9 by 15 mm. The finish of the fins
Plan at first floor level was carefully selected so that the colour intensity would not cause glare resulting from a marked contrast between the background natural light and the fin itself. Additionally the reflectivityofthe finish should be relatively low to ensure that direct light was not reflected back into the building interior. This combination was found to solve the sun glare problem, whilst at the same time giving the appearance of transparency by allowing oblique views through.
Daylight levels are linked electronically with the artificial light by means of the BEMS
which controls the supplementary artificial light when the daylight is insufficient. The method adopted is that the users switch the lights on when required, and the BEMS switches them off when daylight levels are suitable.
Artificial uplighting at the rear of the space consists of fluorescent lamps together with metal halides housed in a shelf beneath the ceiling; this light will be the first to come on followed by the central line of recessed downlighters, and finally the row of recessed lights closest to the window wall; in practice the latter are rarely needed.
The building requires no air-conditioning as it employs a system of displacement ventilation cooling. The supply air is introduced by a plenum method through circular steel registers set into the raised access floor. The combination of solutions to the lighting and ventilation satisfies the designer's desire for a holistic energy efficient solution.
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