GOING TO THE WYRE October 2012
The recently completed £6.9 million headquarters development for Wyre Forest District Council brings together its office-based staff into a building designed to achieve BREEAM “excellent” rating. It benefits from a host of energy efficient features, including an external Timber Fin Solar Shading solution from Levolux.
Designed by Broadway Malyan Architects, the two-storey 3,585m2 building accommodates more than 200 staff who had previously occupied four different buildings in two nearby towns. The low carbon development is expected to benefit the local community by allowing the council to provide a more efficient service and by reducing the council’s running costs by as much as £500,000 each year.
Interconnecting offices, with distinctive pitched roofs are arranged around a series of courtyard gardens, which not only provide green open spaces for staff to enjoy during the day, but also allow natural daylight to filter through into the core of each building.
The building’s south-facing elevation, which accommodates the main entrance, extends to more than 77 metres in length, with full height glazed panels set between brickwork piers. It is here that the risk of solar heat gain is at its greatest.
Solar heat gain is commonly experienced inside a glazed conservatory on a sunny day. Heat from the sun’s rays pass through a glass exterior, warming the air inside. If external Solar Shading is not applied, a building’s energy costs can spiral as mechanical cooling and air conditioning systems are used to offset solar heat gain, to maintain a comfortable environment.
Thankfully modern, energy efficient buildings, like the new Wyre Forest District Council HQ are designed to control solar heat gain, using external Solar Shading. In this instance, Levolux devised a custom solution incorporating Western Red Cedar Timber Fins arranged into vertical stacks and into a horizontal projection at high level.
Finger jointed, laminated aerofoil-shaped Fins, each measuring 285mm deep by 45mm thick are aligned horizontally to form an external shading structure, measuring 7.2 metres high with a projection of 2.3 metres.
Fins are fixed at varying angles and with a graduated pitch to compensate for the sun’s changing position and intensity. This ensures the building receives greater protection from the sun in the summer, but less in the winter, when solar heat gain is welcomed. At the same time, the Fins allow good outward visibility for occupants.
The Fins are arranged into vertical stacks spanning 6 metres between steel columns, with the help of vertical drop rods running through the centre of all Fins. An innovative design allows the Timber Fins to be fully exposed from below, without being obstructed by steelwork. This helps to create a naturally warm and inviting aesthetic for staff and visitors as they pass under the Fins and enter the building.
All timber supplied by Levolux for this project is FSC-certified, derived from sustainable sources, with a full chain of custody. Western Red Cedar is a lightweight, durable timber and to create a naturally impressive aesthetic it was left untreated. Over time the Fins will acquire an attractive, silver-grey patina.
Councillor John Campion, Leader of the Council said:
“Moving into Wyre Forest House is the single most important step in our transformation programme, saving money for the taxpayer and allowing money to be diverted to the front line. It shows how we are committed to modernising the Council by providing flexible accommodation for our office-based staff and a fit-for-purpose venue for the formal meetings of councillors. I believe it will become an iconic public building that will serve the needs of the district for decades to come.”
By moving into its new HQ, Wyre Forest District Council is committed to delivering a more effective and efficient service. With its innovative building technologies, such as the Timber Fin Solar Shading solution, the new building will also benefit the environment, by helping the council to reduce its carbon emissions from its office estate by as much as 85%.