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ICE Midland Project Awards 2001: Designs on energy efficiency; Project: New library for Coventry University. pounds 20m.

The brief for the new library at Coventry University required a design that primarily functioned as a library, was comfortable and welcoming to the students and practical for staff, while being the most energy efficient building of its type constructed to date.

It was necessary to carry out an in depth concept study to evaluate the possibility of achieving the brief. The concept study was very detailed starting with basic design principals, covering building layout, providing space that was flexible, allowing for wiring distribution to meet present and future computing needs and developing technologies, as well as the energy efficiency requirements of the building and the need to minimise maintenance.

The concept study developed a design based upon the principal of a square deep plan building naturally illuminated and ventilated, with an open plan layout and the toilets and staircases attached to the buildings exterior allowing the interior maximum flexibility.

The lighting layout is diagonal to the building plan to allow maximum flexibility for the layout of the bookshelves and computers, the computers data highway is distributed via a 3m square grid built into the floor slab, access to the ducts was aided by the use of carpet tiles to all floors.

The main problems to overcome in the building is to enable the maximum amount of natural light into the floors while allowing sufficient flows of air to maintain air quality and temperature levels. This was achieved by using five atria to project light deep into each floor. Fresh air is supplied via four atria with stale air being exhausted by the fifth atria and chimneys placed around the perimeter. All fresh air supplied is tempered within each atrium to suit the season, with volumes controlled by dampers.

To minimise heat gain in the summer there is a glazed screen built into the top of each atria aided by computer controlled blinds, there is also external fixed shading. The chimney tops were designed and wind tunnel tested to allow the stale air to travel up through the chimney regardless of the prevailing wind speed and direction. The computerised controls monitors and maintains the heating, cooling and air quality systems at the required standards, by the use of electro mechanical devices. The controls take account of wind direction so as to reduce over venting.

In the summer the night air is drawn into the building and vented on to the concrete structure to cool the building, in the winter the concrete structure is allowed to retain heat gained.

The lighting is computer controlled to maintain a constant light level with minimum electrical consumption, electricity for the building is generated by CHP. The result is a striking energy efficient building that fully meets the design brief and has seen the number of customers double to 5,000 plus per day.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 1, 2001
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