The Sustainability Centre in the heart of the South Downs National Park has been granted planning permission for their ‘New Learning Centre’.
The Sustainability Centre has been providing community education and support for 21 years, with a special focus on environmental awareness and wellbeing. With their aging building becoming increasingly unsuitable for the charities diversifying remit, The Sustainability Centre approached Architype to deliver a solution that would help them meet their ‘Ready…Steady…Grow’ initiative, with an aim to significantly increase the centres’ outreach.
In a thorough design process, Architype helped the client to compare options for their new learning centre, evaluating the capital costs against both embodied and operational carbon of various options.
True to their message of sustainability, the centre selected the most environmentally conscious solution. Rather than demolishing their existing 1970s building, the eco-retrofit design offers a super sustainable response that meets increased space needs and flexibility required, while refreshing the aesthetic, providing excellent energy efficiency and showcasing the values that the centre teaches.
The result is a dramatic transformation. The simple form of the building becomes a layered and fluid design, reflecting the natural shapes and materials of the National Park setting. The new timber structural elements and cladding reinforce the building’s connection to the environment. The design response seeks to work with, rather than against the existing 1970s structure, augmenting it with a new timber deck structure that unifies the new with the old. The design celebrates the sustainable use of ultra-local resources from the South Downs, including a Lawson Cypress natural pole structures sourced directly from the site and Cedar cladding from within a mile of the Centre’s boundary.
The Passivhaus retrofit standard; EnerPHit principles are met by modernising the relevant parts of the building with Passivhaus standard components such as windows, airtightness, ventilation systems. The internal heat gains and solar gains will now actively contribute to the building’s energy demand. Infiltration is also dramatically reduced, all of which will include an 80% improvement in carbon and over a 95% reduction in total delivered energy to the building, compared with the existing building’s previous performance. As one of the first commercial Passivhaus EnerPHit projects in the UK, the New Learning Centre will act as an exemplar demonstrator for low energy refurbishment
This will bring lower energy bills and running costs for the charity going forwards, so more funds can be invested into the centre’s mission, including; adult learning; school visits; camping; private hire; corporate retreats; natural burials; weddings and other events.