Monday, 21 May 2012

Passivoffice at Devonshire Gate: Gale & Snowden visit Germany as part of TSB research

Lawrence and Tomas visited Germany in April as part of our Technology Strategy Board (TSB) work, designing for future climates. We visited The Victoria House (also known as the 'Great Pavilion') at the Botanical Garden in Berlin which has recently undergone a complete restoration (completed in 2009) in order to maintain the historical basic structure and to reduce energy requirements by 50%.  Refurbishment work included a new facade and glazing system, new heating and ventilation, and the innovative application and installation of phase change materials (PCM).

Two approximately 12m high 'PCM towers' have been placed at either end of the green house. To blend in with the tropical plants they have been designed as hollow giant trees.

Their purpose is to guarantee an optimal vertical temperature distribution in the greenhouse. The core of these towers is filled with aluminium panels containing a special PCM (in this case salt hydrates) operating at 25°C.

A ”phase-change material”(PCM) is a substance with a high ”heat of fusion” which, melting and solidifying at a certain temperature, is capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy. PCMs, such as water, paraffin, salt hydrates, etc. are able to absorb, store and release large amounts of heat or cold at comparatively small temperature change by changing their physical state, as for example from solid to liquid, solid to solid or through evaporation of the storage material. The heat stored is called latent heat, therefore materials are also referred to as “LATENT HEAT STORAGE MATERIAL”.

The towers at the Great Pavilion store “heat” or “coolth” depending on the ambient air temperature. During the day the air at the roof of the greenhouse heats up due to solar gains. An extractor fan at the top of the tower pulls in the air and pushes it down the tower, past the PCM panels and down to the plants. On its way down heat is absorbed from the air and stored in the PCM, providing cool air to the plants. During the night the air at the top of the green house cools down. This air is is again pulled in via the extractor fan, heated by the energy stored in the PCM material on the way down and supplied as warm air at plant level.

Whilst in Germany, Lawrence and Tomas also attended the 16th International Passive House Conference in Hannover.

Notes from the study trip can be read below:

"Moment to Shine" Olympic Torch Relay 2012

Crowds lined the streets this morning as the Olympic flame arrived in Bideford and Gale & Snowden were there to welcome it to our door. It’s a shame we didn’t design any of the Olympic village, but hey, you can’t have everything. Maybe next time we might be asked to design a Passivhaus stadium!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Passivoffice at Devonshire Gate: Gale & Snowden visit Portugal as part of TSB research

Jason and David visited Portugal in April as part of our Technology Strategy Board (TSB) work, designing for future climates. We visited a passively-cooled building in Lisbon known as the Solar XXI building. It is a naturally ventilated low energy building that uses the ground to cool the building down in the heat of the summer months. It has a PV system integrated into the facade of the building that, as well as producing energy, also functions as part of the ventilation and cooling facade system.

We are looking at this fascinating building in a warm climate because we are currently designing a new low energy office building in Devon, at Devonshire Gate, that has won funding from the TSB to design low energy strategies to cope with predicated future weather without introducing such things as air conditioning systems. This work follows on from our St Loyes Extra Care project climate change adaption work- see below.

A view of the XXI building from the south elevation. The Architect, Pedro Cabrito, has done a great job in designing a template for future low energy office buildings for warmer climates. Contact him if you need any buildings designing in Portugal - he is a really interesting and talented person.

Jason is pictured with our new Portuguese friends who were the project team; Professor Helder Goncalves, Laura Aelenei and Pedro Cabrito the buildings Architect. We would like to thank them for their hospitality, enthusiasm and warm welcome.

3D drawing of the Devonshire Gate Passivoffice Project that has been designed by us with future climates in mind, to meet Passivhaus standards as well as minimising environmental impacts.

Further information on the Solar XXI project can be downloaded at

Notes from Gale & Snowden's study tour can be read below:

Planning Success for Gale & Snowden on the North Devon coast

Gale & Snowden Architects have successfully obtained planning permission for a replacement private dwelling on the coast in Croyde, North Devon.  Oyster Falls has been designed to Passivhaus standards.

West Elevation

Gale & Snowden seek RIBA President's Award for Research 2012

We have applied this month for the RIBA President's Award for Research 2012 for our work on low environmental impact design for Future Weather for our St Loyes Extra Care project that we are undertaking with Exeter City Council in Exeter. Details of the RIBA award application process can be seen here:

"This is an excellent example of using intelligent, environmentally informed design, to design one's way out of a problem rather than resort to mechanical systems or complex features. The result adds real value by providing a delightful environment for the residents of the building as well as reducing running costs for the client"
Bill Gething

"This project showed originality in their solutions to achieving a passive house design that would function into the 2080s.....[Gale & Snowden's] approach was significantly ahead of many others.....The ExtraCare4Exeter project was one of the top 4 in the Design for Future Climate programme and was selected to give an extended presentation on their findings at the opening of the 2011 Design for Future Climate conference"
Dr Fionnuala Costello - Lead Technologist, Low Impact Buildings, Technology Strategy Board

"...the process employed by Gale & Snowden - to introduce consideration of climate change adaptation into the design and into the client's investment decision making - is as significant and praiseworthy as the chosen design features of the ultimate building"
Ian Cooper - Partner, Eclipse Research Consultants

Our research statement for the RIBA award outlines our research work and can be read below:

Gale & Snowden Planning Success

We have recently successfully obtained Planning permission for two Passivhaus projects. One is a new state of the art Passivoffice at M5 Junction 27 near Tiverton which has been designed to also meet future weather.

The second is for two new build Passivhaus flats and eco-renovation of an existing farm house at Mosshayne Farm just outside Exeter.

Gale & Snowden's building performance monitoring projects

We have won a second monitoring competition from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to monitor another of our buildings and we had the project start meeting with the TSB on 8th May.  Last year we won funding to monitor 3 flats at Knights Place and at the beginning of this year we won further funding from the TSB to monitor another 3 flats at Rowan House.  Both Knights Place and Rowan House are new build affordable housing projects in Exeter that are designed to meet Passivhaus Standards.  The monitoring work is being undertaken under the TSB Building Performance Evaluation programme (BPE).  The funding is for us to purchase and install a range of sophisticated monitoring equipment in the flats and then to monitor the performance of the building and the tenants' use of the building over a period of 24 months. As results come in we will post then on our blog - keep an eye out, it should be interesting.

Knights Place

Rowan House