80-year old office projects eco-logic

Niki May Young
Wednesday 03 Dec 2008

John Thompson & Partners architects maintain focus on the environment despite crunch-time distraction

Only a few months ago the threat to the future of our planet filled the front pages of our newspapers and dominated our television screens. Today the worldwide economic crisis has diverted people’s attention and environmental issues are lost among the latest stories of bank collapse and recession.

The issues surrounding the environment prevail. One urbanism and architecture practice, John Thompson & Partners (JTP), have taken the opportunity to practice what they preach in fitting-out their new offices using green technology in a practical attempt to tackle climate change and reduce their carbon footprint.

The new office in Clerkenwell, London is a former 1920s warehouse which offered JTP the opportunity to fit-out the building as ademonstration of sustainable office design. As tenants, JTP were not permitted to replace the critall windows or gas boiler. Working within the parameters of what they could do, JTP set out to utilise green technology in a building more than 80 years old.

Marcus Adams, Managing Partner of JTP says:“We believe there should be a much greater emphasis on tackling climate change through the upgrading of existing buildings.As new construction has dramatically slowed, the ability to effectively decrease CO2 emissions through designing new buildings, to better standards, has decreased. Retrofitting existing buildings with green technology will have a greater impact and we have used the opportunity to demonstrate how commercial buildings can be practically improved.”

JTP Special Projects, a studio set up to promote green architecture, has remodelled the building to incorporate an extensive range of innovative features.Solar and photovoltaic panels have been added to the south facing façade and double as sun shades for windows. Internally ‘phase change’ panels act as natural temperature moderators with panels containing paraffin wax absorbing heat during the day and releasing heat at night. Other walls have clay finishes designed to moderate humidity as well as temperature.

The office is naturally ventilated, but air conditioning is required for the computer server room. This represents a significant percentage of the total office energy requirement. Six photovoltaic panels have been incorporated to generate a proportion of this requirement.

Solar panels are used to pre-heat all the hot water including the showers, which is important in a practice where cycling to work is strongly encouraged. The new office includes secure indoor cycle storage, showers and even a supply of freshly laundered towels. Water from the showers is recycled to flush toilets.

JTP Special Projects Director Paul Miller says:“As promoters of green design we felt that our old office fell short of our aspirations to promote a more sustainable lifestyle. Now we are able to show clients a working model of various green technologies and passive design methods as we walk them around the office.”

Key Facts:

Architecture
United Kingdom
Commercial Offices

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