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Green - Sustainable Architecture and Landscape Design - AJ Retrofit Award for KKE Architects - AJ Retrofit Award for KKE Architects
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January - February #35
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AJ Retrofit Award for KKE Architects

AJ Retrofit Award for KKE Architects
The awards, created by the Architects’ Journal (‘the voice of architecture in Britain’), recognise the vision of clients and the skill of architects in re-purposing existing buildings to create cost-effective schemes with low energy usage and reduced carbon emissions.

The innovative Riverside building, which appears purpose-built, but was in fact created from a former car dealership with associated workshops, has achieved a C energy performance rating (EPR): a significant achievement for a refurbishment and especially one created on a tight budget. At a total project cost of £2.3m, the scheme cost approximately half what it would have cost to build from scratch (at a £1000 per sq m rather than £2000 per sq m for a new scheme).

Martin Mayfield of award sponsors Arup commented on the Higher Education Buildings’ category: “Universities and colleges must not only rationalise their estates, but improve their performance in response to the changing agenda on carbon, teaching, research and finance. Reducing carbon emissions while using more energy demands a strategic, long-term approach to estates management.”

He also said of the winning and finalist projects “It’s inspiring to see the innovative ways in which these projects are dealing with these issues.”

A former car showroom and servicing garage, which had fallen into disrepair after being empty for over a year, was re-imagined for the new scheme as a centre for sports science and performance arts teaching, encapsulating a sports hall, sports teaching rooms, a dance room, full changing rooms and a large social space with café facilities.

"Our approach," explained Phil Kavanagh, KKE Architects’ Director and Project Leader, "was to optimise the layout for the required teaching and social functions and to concentrate the refurbishment efforts into reducing energy use, seeking innovative ways to retain as much of the original building envelope and adding elements to help with energy conservation, as well as giving the building increased scale, impact and authority."

Landscaping on the scheme was by KKE Architects’ Director and Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist garden designer Olivia Kirk.

“The planting scheme was robust and was created in order to provide privacy and breakout spaces for students using the new social learning space” explained Olivia Kirk. “A long curve of Cornus Midwinter Fire and Eleagnus Limelight provide year-round interest, with eight multi-stemmed River Birch providing a striking boundary between the university building and the adjacent busy road. Traditionally associated with river banks, the trees are visually pleasing, with the flaking, cinnamon-coloured bark contrasting in winter with the bright red of the Cornus."

The social learning space is well-used by the University students and many take advantage of it as a stopping-off point when travelling between sites, whilst also using it as a destination. The central location further encourages greater use of cycling and public transport.


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