The Sevenoaks Science & Technology and Sixth Form Building provides exemplary laboratory and technology spaces for students
The client’s brief was for the building to be an inspirational exemplar of sustainable design in order to support the science education at Sevenoaks School. The school required the building to meet the requirements of BREEAM Excellent, as well as having low running costs and providing excellent comfort for study and examinations. Comfort was assessed using 2050 medium emissions scenario weather files to provide climate change resilience.
The passive design necessary to create naturally ventilated, well daylit teaching spaces was carried out as part of an integrated design approach whereby the architecture responded to the environmental needs. Teaching laboratories are orientated to reduce the depth in order to maximise daylight penetration, and the façade accommodates the required window and vent sizes. The sawtooth roof and open atrium deliver glare-free north light throughout the spaces.
The thermally massive structure is naturally ventilated to provide good thermal comfort year round. In the physics lab, natural ventilation openings incorporate light-proof louvres to allow for experiments which require blackout. Active cooling is avoided to most spaces by adopting solar shading blinds behind fixed windows, generous daytime natural ventilation rates and a night ventilation strategy to purge heat from the exposed concrete soffits. The central atrium acts as a lung, permitting efficient cross ventilation to all teaching spaces via acoustically attenuated permanently open vents. Those spaces which may be more prone to overheating have low carbon cooling provided by borehole water circulating through fair-faced concrete soffits. After it has cooled the spaces, this borehole water is recycled for WC flushing, reducing water consumption. Heat loss is minimised by insulation and airtightness levels which are 25% better than required by building regulations.
The MEP installation is tightly coordinated and integrated, sympathetic to the building's high architectural aspirations. Services are distributed horizontally around the perimeter of the building, serving individual rooms via a raised floor void, permitting long term flexibility to rearrangement of rooms with minimal disruption to adjoining spaces. Heating, cooling and lighting are all demand controlled and there is a centralized BMS to provide control, monitoring and optimization of control algorithms.
The design team have been fully involved in the handover process, testing functionality, operation and dynamic response of the building systems. The building will be monitored and adjusted through the initial 12 months of operation and a post occupancy review will be carried out to assess the operation of the systems and the need for any proposed further adjustments.