Sustainability and biodiversity
The design for the new building prioritises passive design principles, optimising and responding to the site orientation, maximising the potential for natural daylight, natural ventilation and exposed thermal mass of the concrete frame, with nighttime ventilation. And a fabric first approach to achieve a highly insulated, airtight envelope to minimise energy consumption whilst optimising daylight uniformity.
The design team each utilised embodied carbon calculating software to help refine the design at the early stages with a focus on the structural frame, the environmental systems, the facades, and the internal partitions and finishes. The structural frame design was also referenced against design proposals from two years before and showed significant reductions in embodied carbon.
The whole building will be provided with mechanical ventilation (with heat recovery systems). Even to smaller spaces such as academic offices which will rely a lot of the year on natural ventilation through opening windows. This will ensure that in the winter months the whole building can be sealed shut and the heat loss / energy use is minimised, and air quality and thermal comfort maximised.
The London Plan and the Tower Hamlets Local Plan set a high bar for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in use. This will result in a 45% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the 2013 standards and on-site renewable energy systems that include photovoltaic panels and air-source heat pumps. The project is also targeting BREEAM Excellent and to be a LETI (Low Energy Transformation Initiative) Pioneer project which demonstrates best practice in designing for a net zero carbon future.
A key ambition for the project is to revitalise the southeast corner of the campus through the new building along with a significant refurbishment of two existing vacant buildings which will also reduce long term energy use.
The landscape design is central to the proposals and will improve biodiversity through several enhancements that include the creation of a green wildlife corridor between the cemetery and the canal and new canalside floating marginal planting. Rainwater run-off will be attenuated through a mix of SuDS measures including brown roofs, planted swale and permeable paving. Finally, a large new cycle hub will encourage sustainable transport.