Our work to upgrade this post-war structure and its services to match modern energy-efficiency and low-carbon demands, along with the ability to change the internal spaces for future, as yet to be guessed, requirements means we have created a sustainable building that could have hundreds more years of life.
Our project has turned a former hospital wing that housed a burger bar and a nightclub, into a flexible education space that helps shape a world where young people can challenge research and culture to effect change through public engagement with science, art and technology. The end product includes gallery space, a basement theatre, café, studio and office spaces as well as an external courtyard.
Science Gallery London at King’s College London is located opposite The Shard in London Bridge, and has made its home in the Grade II listed Boland House, part of the historic 18th century Guy’s Hospital.
Our aim was to design a facility that reduced energy use. To achieve this we used efficient technologies including LED lighting, combined heat and power generation and ventilation strategies that would cut CO2 emissions as much as possible.
Future generations can now come here and learn about science and the world around them while seeing what sustainable thinking can achieve.
New energy to cut CO2 emissions
From the outset, the design of the gallery was based on the concept of reusing as much of the original fabric as possible to avoid waste and carbon generated by creating new materials. Almost all of the original structure was retained and only 7% of the existing floor slabs were removed to allow people, light and air to circulate.
We thermally modelled the plans from the start which helped develop our energy strategy. All the building’s external walls were fully lined with internal insulation which instantly made the structure 19% more energy efficient. Dry lining for the entire gallery was made from recycled material, including gypsum, newspapers and magazines, and even recycled water.
Public spaces, such as the offices on the first floor, are entirely naturally ventilated where possible. The gallery areas have a mixed-mode system which means mechanical cooling switches off after a certain number of the existing sash windows are opened, to bring fresh air into the building the old-fashioned way.
The high-efficiency LED lighting throughout is linked to a central control system which uses techniques such as ‘presence detecting lighting’ (turning the lights off if no one is there), occupancy sensing (focusing the lighting where it is needed) and perimeter daylight linking (turning the lighting down or off when daylight can do the job on its own). This lighting design has cut emissions by 10.1t of CO2 a year.
We’ve installed heat pumps and heat-recovery devices to reuse energy the building generates and we’ve replaced the old, inefficient heating system. The end result, when the effect of the new lighting, heating and insulation is added up, is an annual saving of 270MWh per year, or 47t of CO2.
We’re also delighted that the gallery has been awarded a Very Good rating under the BREEAM sustainability measuring scheme and has an Energy Performance Rating of B, producing only 37kgCO2/m2 per year, which is excellent for such a venerable, listed structure.
Flexible spaces to add life
Key to the gallery’s future longevity is that the inside space can be easily reconfigured allowing current and future users to make the building suitable for activities and technologies, some of which have yet to be imagined.
The theatre can be used as a 150-seat auditorium and also in ‘flat-floor’ mode for other events.
The gallery spaces can be changed around thanks to adaptable ceiling grids, enabling multiple events to take place at the same time – so the gallery is busy and can also earn revenue through external bookings.
We have added one very noticeable addition though. The goods lift tower at the front gives presence to the gallery in the street but can also be used as an art installation, with artists using the fully programmable, LED lighting and laser-etched panels to give the gallery a unique glow.
Client: King’s College London
Architect: LTS Architects