Carbon negative building performance
The 3,000 sq.m European centre of excellence for research into bioenergy will encourage innovation in the development of biomass as a unique energy resource. The facility is to act as a beacon for development in bioenergy and expand on the facilities and research already undertaken at Aston University. This building will provide a range of analytical and research laboratories, alongside support space and seminar facilities for staff and visiting researchers. Demonstration plant will showcase the application of such research and its economic viability to industry.
The scheme achieves a BREEAM Excellent rating with an EPC rating of A+. Biofuel is used to power the building and provide heating and cooling. Built on the site of a former cinema and television studio, our design restores the original massing of a portico building whilst adding a substantial two storey extension to the rear. A solid, robust brick plinth grounds the building into the landscape whilst glazing and textured metal mesh provides a lighter counterpoint at the upper floor levels.
Internally, a central circulation space is positioned on the axis of the retained portico building. Accommodation flanks this route to separate individual specialist laboratories and research space from academic and support areas. Circulation is minimised through efficient planning of the spaces, both to maximise the space available and assist in the movement of equipment. At the ground floor, one of the research rooms is expressed as a light-weight glazed cantilevered box, punching through the brick base to provide views over an external landscaped area.
A new entrance is formed from the road to providing access for deliveries and maintenance, freeing the front to be landscaped to provide cycle storage and retain an existing stone monument on the site.
A partial basement exploits level changes across the site, reducing the mass of the building by concealing much of the plant. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units are fed by biofuel to power the building and provide heating and cooling. The same units act as test beds for the research carried out, providing a fitting testimony to the research carried out by the EBRI team. Excess heat and power generated is fed back into the grid, and the Eastside CHP system to power local projects.