Aston University Engineering Academy is a new 6,500m² facility in the heart of Birmingham, dedicated to engineering disciplines. Its principle sponsor is Aston University, located a few blocks away. It has strong ties with the university in terms of education delivery, shared facilities, and cutting edge equipment and resources.
Cundall has been involved with Lendlease and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios from the outset of the scheme to advise on services and environmental issues and help develop the concepts for the redevelopment of the site.
The site was chosen for its inner city location, and proximity to the university; however, it was also a huge challenge for the design team because of its proximity to Birmingham’s busy inner ring road. The location demanded that the building to be fully mechanically ventilated and cooled due to high external noise levels and air quality issues. Fresh air is drawn into the building from roof level and opposite the roads, whilst the windows are high performance sealed units.
The existing basement structure on the site was originally seen as an unusable hindrance to the scheme. However, it enabled us to develop an innovative thermal labyrinth and basement plant driven services for the scheme. This resulted in substantially reduced cooling energy requirements and freed up the need for any significant plantroom space above ground, enabling the architecture and aesthetics of the building to continue uninterrupted on all four sides.
The scheme was eligible for the Department for Children Schools and Families' carbon reduction funding, and Cundall developed an energy strategy that was tailored to meet the academy’s engineering aspirations. This includes a 50m² PV array, a gas fired CHP plant, low energy lighting and lighting controls, and a highly efficient cooling system. The building services engineering will be an integral part of the building, incorporating vision panels, engineering displays, energy screens, and student web access to the BEMS and the design stage thermal model.
- RIBA West Midland Regional Awards 2013