University of Ulster Belfast Campus

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University of Ulster Belfast Campus
Introduction The Art College was conceived as a landmark building, designed to enhance the presence of the University of Ulster in central Belfast. The new 17000m2 building provides state-of-the-art facilities including a 220 seat lecture theatre, multifunction lecture and display areas, learning resource centre CAD suites, MAC labs, teaching rooms, studios and workshops. The creation of the new facility is an important investment for the University of Ulster and marks a special contribution to the regeneration of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. The art school had to remain fully operational during the construction period creating a logistically demanding phasing operation to ensure that a fully functioning and safe working environment for staff and students was maintained at all times. The necessity of continuing 'business as usual' for the University informed the key decisions in the strategy for re-developing the existing site. The original1960's building was kept operational whilst a new 6000m2 extension was built along side. A new steel framed plantroom was built over the top of the occupied existing building before the existing 1960's plantroom on the ground floor could be removed. The top two floors of the old artschool were then re-housed in the extension so that those floors could be stripped back to the concrete frame, re-clad with a state of the art facade, re-modelled and fully fitted out. These departments were then moved back so that the lower floors could de-cant into the extension and those lower floors be similarly re-furbished. The new cladding, new top storey and roof structures were constructed over the top of the existing building to ensure that the building was maintained as fully weather tight throughout the construction period. The design and construction of the building were used as an opportunity to develop an educational resource for the University- to compensate in part for the fact hat construction work was proceeding at times both above and below occupied floors. A series of lectures and workshops were organised for the architecture students by the design and construction teams. A series of guided site visits were also provided, and a number of art projects developed. Sustainability Performance: A major component in the development of the design was the design team's promotion of natural ventilation to reduce the building's energy consumption. The result has been a design which utilizes the exposed concrete slabs to cool internal spaces or act as a heat store. A constant air flow is created using the BMS controlled façade in conjunction with the chimney effect of the glazed atria. The technology has been developed from earlier University of Ulster projects developed by Todd Architects and BDP which have achieved an improvement in the University's average CO2/m2 footprint by upwards of 40%. Heat recovery units at high level in the atrium harvest any remaining energy from the air before it is exhausted out through the roof top façades. The façade is similarly responsive in terms of the provision of natural light: The natural light through the façade is monitored by daylight sensors which automatically adjust the levels of any artificial lighting used internally to minimize energy use. Other low energy technologies have been used within the building such as rainwater harvesting, and the use of Combined Heat and Power micro generation and absorption chillers. However the key advantage to the University has been the combining of a passive ventilating facade with the option to 'plug in' local fancoil units, creating a hybrid low-energy solution that is flexible enough to be adapted to future changes in occupancy, layout and use: the conclusion has been that buildings that are able to adapt, will in the long run prove to be the most sustainable. Cooperation between Client, Design Team and Contractor And Building Inspiration The project has been unusual and in many ways exemplary in the level of cooperation and communication between the members of the team. A key component that has developed with the project has been the use of the educational resource that the construction process represents: Architects, Project Managers, Engineers, Clients Representatives, Contractor and four key subcontractors have all given lectures to Architecture and Design students explaining the detail of the design and construction process. A series of guided site visits have also become important components in the Architect Students' education, while the acoustic hoarding that was initially created to protect students from the noise of the site was subsequently modified at the student's request in order to provide views into the site as a further learning resource. The students have also fed back into the process through work on three separate site hoarding projects, and have produced a series of essays reviewing and exploring the project as well as undertaking the development of a project data-base and web-sites. http://www.sitescreening.com An online university web cam has also documented the entire construction process, while a series of presentations has kept staff abreast of design decisions and progress. The project has proven to be inspirational to a number of students leading to the creation of several pieces of art based on the building. An embroidery created by a textiles student de-constructed from the ground and first floor plans was subsequently selected for display in a London exhibition, while another piece, 2.5m x 1m has been bought by Todd Architects for their new offices. The entrance lobby has already been used as a film set, whilst the bridge has been used as a backdrop for several fashion shoots, both professional and student. Student 'installations' have included a giant pyramid currently installed within the main atrium and the mysterious arrival in the entrance lobby of a decorated 1992 red Peugeot 205…

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