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Building sustainable and healthy schools cost effectively

Transcript of John Christophers', From Associated Architects, presentation…

…at the opening of the King’s School in Worcester – the UK’s first Multi Comfort building.

We were developing a brief for the Bartholomew Barn with them (The King’s School in Worcester) and discussing the Passivhaus standard, and it was very timely that we were then able to introduce the Saint-Gobain Group, whose Multi Comfort concept seemed so well aligned with the School’s aims.

It was almost, as it seemed, that this was a marriage made in heaven, if you like, that we had an enlightened client, an enlightened building supply company, and that we were able to bring them together.

I hope when you come to a building like this and you can see, despite what our legislators might be doing at the moment, that good buildings are possible, that good buildings are affordable, and that good buildings, and Green buildings, have demonstrable benefits, that we will all be doing more of these, we will see that this isn’t just a hair-shirt philosophy that we must be Green, although it’s a boring and dull thing.

Green can be great, Green can be fun, and Green can really be an enlightened way forward I very strongly believe.

There are a lot of lovely Worcestershire crux barns and so forth around, and there’s a very strong, in this Warwickshire and Worcestershire area, tradition of timber-frame building, so we were drawing strongly on that architecturally, and I think as well in sustainability terms timber is a building material that locks up carbon, it’s taking carbon out of the atmosphere and it’s locking it up in that building for, we hope sixty years, although some Elizabethan timber buildings have been there for five hundred years, so it’s a very Green building in that respect.

The asymmetric form of this barn, because this is clearly not a medieval barn it’s a twenty-first century take on a barn, is generated partly by the need for north lights. These roof lights, above you, are all facing north so that we’re not worried about getting too cold in the winter in a building like this. We are more worried about getting too hot in the summer and so all the roof lights face north, so we’re not getting direct sunlight at this time of year.

We developed very much in partnership, the wall construction for instance, where we finessed from some typical Passivhaus buildings which had been done before. On a building like this, we’ve finessed and simplified down the sort of buildability and constructability, so that I hope, that buildings of this type are really just on the cusp of becoming mainstream buildings.

We’re really looking forward to the fact that all these little gizmos that are protected by cones up and down the building, that aren’t required for the running of the building, they are all to monitor it, which is being done by Tensor in huge detail. All the way through the slab we’ve got monitors at different levels and all the way through the roof construction, so that I hope the data we get from this building over the next few years will be able to inform the trade and the profession as to the lessons-to-learned from this and the educational outcomes, and so we hope to be able to improve upon a yardstick of using perhaps only five percent of the energy of a typical school, and I’m sure the education results will be a lot better than five percent above the average.