As a client the Cummins Engine Co. of America is an active promoter of sound architecture; their corporate HQ in the US being noted for a catalogue of thoroughbred public and institutional buildings, whilst in this country the tradition has been carried on, of which the Cummins Power Generation plant by Bennetts Associates is no exception.
In the US there has been atradition of windowless factories (as sadly also of windowless schools) leading to high levels of concern as to the psychological effect on the workforce, though Cummins have led a change in attitude away from this approach in recent work.
In the UK there is now an ethos of work spaces providing adequate levels of daylighting and the method of daylighting adopted at Cummins is a further example of this.
The central lines of rooflights which follow the lines of the three bays of the building, together with the clerestory windows along the sides, flood the building with natural light, even allowing a welcome degree of sunlight to enter.
The brief to the architects was for a general light level of 500 lux, and this can be maintained by the pattern of metal halide high bay light fittings at all times, but during the day when there is ample daylight outside the building, some rows of the artificial lights may be switched off, when the level of daylight approaches 700 lux or more in the interior.
There is no sophisticated daylight linking control, and the paybackfor such controls in terms of energy saving should be considered. This would have to address the problem that the metal halide lamp is not amenable to dimming.
The exterior elevations of the building do not suggest the building's daylight credibility, since the rooflighting is not immediately apparent; but it can be seen that the daylighting available from the low level windows along the south-western face provide a welcome degree of high contrast in an area used for circulation rather than production. Another important factor is that the specialist floor specified provides a light reflective finish, unusual in a factory making heavy metal generator equipment.
As is the case with most modern offices, the use of computer screens ensures that the side windows which apparently cause unacceptable glare tend to be monitored by venetian blinds. As computer screens are developed and 'flattened'this may proveto be unnecessary.
One effect of being close to the flight path of Manston Airport, is that after two years the outer surface of the rooflights suffer from a thin layer of aviation film, which diminishes the level of daylight to the interior, an aspect which requires determined maintenance if the level of the daylight is to be maintained.
The south-eastern elevation
Daylight entering through low level windows to the western elevation
The south-eastern elevation
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