Architect & Engineer Arup Associates Client Arup
It is not surprising that when the architects -Arup Associates, the lighting designers - Arup Lighting, get together with the engineers -Ove Arup and Partners, that the resulting offices built in Solihull for themselves should be state of the art; where the daylighting is linked with the artificial lighting, which together with the passive structure, has led to a comfortable low energy and sustainable architecture.
The building has a general north-west, south-east orientation, an orientation designed to optimize the natural lighting whilst respecting the site's constraints and optimizing use of the available space. Looking at the exterior of the building, it is not surprising that it is known affectionately by the locals as the 'chicken shed' due to the projecting roof pods placed at intervals along the roof line.
These pods are the key to the success of the natural environment, incorporating skylights to ensure good levels of light penetration to the central areas of the offices; whilst at the same time incorporating louvres to enable stack effect ventilation, forming a part of the environmental control strategy for the building.
The building consists of two parallel pavilions of two storeys each, approximately 60 m long by 24 m deep, designed to minimize the number of levels in the building, with mezzanines and floor openings used to maximize internal staff communication, with good light penetration to the lower levels.
To ensure good control of glare, the glazing to the north-east and south-west facades is minimized, whilst the use of external solar shading to the southerly facades ensures that the solar heat gain is prevented from entering the building, enabling the strategy of natural ventilation to be effective. All of the main elevations incorporate shading devices to control solar gain, and where occupants are seated close to a window manually operated louvres allow personal control, to reduce local heat gain.
On the south-east double height facade, where users are not seated close to windows, electrically operated exterior blinds are controlled by the building management system with manual override. On the northern elevation manually operated interior blinds are available when needed, as the reduction in direct solar penetration is not as critical.
A sophisticated system of control is used for the artificial lighting, designed to incorporate both proximity control sensing, and daylight linking; in which combined sensors are integrated into the light fittings. The lighting units were specially developed for the campus, as a part of the overall lighting strategy.
The light fittings contain both indirect uplighting and direct downlighting; but it has been found in operation that the amount of the upward light can be reduced, as the level of natural light is more than sufficient, in which the spaces appear light and airy even on comparatively overcast days.
Elevation to show projecting pods
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