Grade 2 New theatre space for Essex University
The University and design team were committed to developing a sustainable environmental strategy for the project. The un-insulated concrete tiled roof was replaced with Welsh slate and insulated to higher than Building Regulation levels. Rainwater is harvested and used to flush toilets. A key objective has been to keep the technology as simple as possible. Rooflights, controlled by rain sensors, have been introduced to provide natural light and ventilation, both
minimising the consumption of energy and creating a natural and well tempered environment.
During theatre performances, when rooflights would allow external noises to infiltrate and the sounds of the production could disturb neighbours, a simple mechanical extract system with sound attenuators located in the roof void removes exhaust air from the theatre. Fresh air is tempered by being drawn through the plant room and introduced into the theatre via floor ducts and grilles. Natural light is used wherever possible. At each end of the foyer a slot extends up through the studio to rooflights, which allow sunlight and natural ventilation into the otherwise enclosed space. Acoustic considerations in the theatre control room mean that this requires mechanical ventilation but heat recovery units minimise the heat loss.
Dimmable lights, local switches and movement sensors balance good user control with reduced energy consumption. The heating system has high efficiency weather compensated condensing boilers with variable flow rates and temperatures to minimise carbon dioxide emissions whilst maximising the comfort of occupants.