Lambeth Town Hall project shortlisted for two major awards

The Lambeth Town Hall project has been shortlisted as refurbishment of the year at two leading industry awards.

The scheme, which has seen the renovation of three sites, including the grade II listed town hall and civic centre, has been selected in this year’s Building Awards and at the AJ Architecture Awards.

The town hall was built in 1906 and the refurbishment project allowed the council to consolidate staff into two offices from 14, saving it £4.5m a year and cutting its carbon footprint by a third.

Key Sustainability measures designed by chapmanbdsp, a building services consultancy appointed as MEP and environmental consultant, helped Lambeth exceed its sustainable ‘BREEAM’ goals.

BREEAM, one of the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for buildings, promotes the well-being of people who work in them as well as the environment. Both the town hall and civic centre achieved a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating.

Solutions included an energy centre and a 140m2 biodiverse green roof, which houses more than 30 difference plant species of native wildflower species and acts as a foraging resource for invertebrates and birds like the black redstart, which was in danger of dying-out in the local area.

Internal comfort was improved with the provision of filtered mechanical heating and cooling and increased acoustic performance of the building fabric and windows. Windows were also provided with occupant operational solar control.

The civic centre now has an active solar glass shading system, one of the biggest of its kind in the UK, which consists of electronically tintable glazing. It controls the sunlight and heat that enters a building, which reduces energy consumption and improves occupants’ comfort and well-being.

Danielle Lowson, senior environmental consultant at chapmanbdsp, said: Prior to refurbishment, the town hall was under-performing in relation to occupancy levels and public use, accessibility and inclusivity, energy consumption, and on-going building maintenance and in-use costs. The refurbishment addressed these issues ensuring that the historic building is now a sustainable building of the future achieving a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and EPC C rating.

‘Due to the listed nature of the building, there were very tight constraints relating to the building fabric, protection of existing architectural features and character, resulting in limited planning permission to upgrade. However, the building system approach was very much driven by an agenda of sustainability, in relation to both environmental and on-going building in life costs. A key part of this was to connect the existing building to the site wide energy centre as well as furnishing a large extent of existing roof with photovoltaic cells and the provision of a green roof to the existing building to aid with SUDS and biodiversity.’

Ian Smith, principal mechanical engineer at chapmanbdsp, added: In terms of thermal comfort, the challenge was to provide an internal condition akin to a new build within a building envelope built in the early 1900s. The town hall had a very primitive ventilation system, using belt-fans and brick-built shafts to provide a level of ‘fresh’ air. The challenge was to replace this with conditioned and filtered fresh air within a sealed system using modern, energy efficient air handling units. Existing routes were re-used and replaced with new, sealed ductwork where feasible including the breaking out of basement slab and re-lining of an existing fresh air intake shaft. Photovoltaic panels were also provided to generate electricity to further improve the energy performance credentials.

‘The end result was an historical building which remains aesthetically largely the way it has for the past century but with modern day services systems such as heating, cooling, ventilation, IT and communications and access control.’

Neil Bradley, board director at chapmanbdsp, said: ‘We developed an environmental and sustainability strategy which will be the new benchmark for public buildings and significantly reduce valuable running costs for all of Lambeth Council’s buildings.’

Other companies working on the project for the client, Muse Developments, include Morgan Sindall, Cartwright Pickard, Faithful & Gould and Marick.