Project of the Year – Commercial/Industrial
Recognising and celebrating a commercial or industrial building that most effectively demonstrates high levels of user satisfaction and comfort while delivering outstanding measured building performance.
Winner: Institute of Physics - AECOM
The Institute of Physics’ (IoP’s) new £13m global headquarters was praised for its ‘living lab’ design as it was crowned Commercial Project of the Year.
Aecom’s accessible building perfectly reflects the IoP’s mission statement: ‘Physics is central to our society.’ It integrates several cutting-edge systems, including a geothermal closed-loop borehole, plus oversized free cooling ventilation combined with adaptive internal set points.
Set in a conservation area on the edge of London’s ‘Knowledge Quarter’, the building features ‘chimneys’ that replicate Victorian stacks, to take in fresh air at a high level and discharge it up through a central atrium. The building’s thermal mass mitigates peak temperatures and sets adaptive comfort criteria during peak summer conditions.
Its ventilation systems are optimised for maximum free cooling during shoulder seasons and low-energy distribution during peak demand. When not in free-cooling mode, fresh air rates are controlled on CO2 to ensure internal air quality is maintained.
Although compliance legislation at the time favoured gas, the IoP’s HQ has been designed to predominately source its heating and cooling from electricity.
Daylight is maximised with an atrium that descends into a new, double-height basement, which is underpinned by a complicated structural design that had to work within the site’s confined space and the sinking of boreholes.
The lighting features addressable and dimmable control, which has been optimised post-occupancy to ensure lux levels are comfortable and dimmed when not required.
All of the building’s systems are metered and measured extensively, so their operation, energy use and occupancy can be monitored and recorded. The IoP is working with partner institutions to allow this data to be analysed for academic study, which will not only help to inform its HQ’s own operation, but also that of future designs.
The judges also lauded Aecom for its community engagement. It has helped draft material for presentations and publications to schools, using the building as a case study to explain how building physics works, with the aim of fostering interest in science from an early age.
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