The University of Northampton’s stunning new £330 million Waterside Campus is set to be a template for sustainability having been built to low carbon, BREEAM Excellent-rated construction standards. Central to the design of the natural ventilation strategy for both the Waterside Energy Centre and the Learning Hub, Construction Specialties’ (CS) architectural louvres will provide excellent airflow and long-lasting protection from wind-driven rain.
In a design by MCW Architects and built by Mace, the Energy Centre will provide low carbon heating via a district heating network across the campus including all academic, residential and commercial buildings. While the building’s aptly nicknamed ‘Power Tower’ contains all boiler flues, the main box-like structure incorporates a visually interesting saw-tooth façade on the north elevation to respond to the university’s arrival square. The energy centre houses a woodchip biomass boiler, gas boilers, thermal storage vessels and associate plant equipment. As a result, this ambitious services system saves over 1,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The Energy Centre
As part of the Energy Centre’s natural ventilation strategy, CS’ RSH-5700 rain defence louvres fitted with bird screens were installed at the ground floor level of the South and East elevations forming an air intake area and at the upper mezzanine level of the West elevation which serves as an air exhaust area. The LA-600C acoustic louvres were specified to be fitted behind RSH-5700 louvres in both locations to help achieve noise emission limits stipulated in BREEAM and local planning authority requirements.
Fabricated and delivered to site as modules for efficient installation, RSH-5700 louves were powder coated in RAL 7016 Anthracite Grey, in keeping with the colour of surrounding cladding. The acoustic louvres were manufactured in galvanised steel.
The Learning Hub
For the MCW Architect-designed Learning Hub, there is a mixture of teaching, learning, working and social spaces that maximise daylight and natural ventilation. CS louvres were specified on two opposite sides of the building’s 5th floor rooftop plant room to provide air intake and exhaust functions. On this building, the preference was for a louvre model with vertical blade orientation that blended with the overall building design. RSV-5700 rain defence louvres powdercoated in RAL 9018 Papyrus White, complete with bird guards or blanked off with single skin blanking panels in non-active areas, were installed flush with the polycarbonate walling system.
Featuring a complex, extruded aluminium blade profile with multiple draining channels, RSH-5700 and its vertical blade version RSV-5700 are high-performance louvre systems designed to provide maximum defence against water penetration whilst maintaining good airflow characteristics. The highly robust 1.52mm extruded blades are up to three times thicker than traditional rolled louvre blades and are able to span an exceptional 3m.
In terms of performance, RSH-5700 and RSV-5700 louvres are part of CS’ rain defence range, offering class A rain defence up to 3.0m/s for the horizontal version and class A rain defence up to 3.5m/s for the vertical version. With a class 3 ‘good’ airflow rating, the two versions allow the passage of air, whilst providing the area beyond the boiler and plant equipment on both the Energy Centre and Learning Hub with protection from rain penetration.
Home to 14,000 students and 2,000 members of staff, the landmark new Waterside Campus has become a major catalyst to the regeneration of Northampton and is leading the way in the race to net-zero. The specification of high performance rain defence louvres is part of this ambitious sustainable approach, providing sufficient airflow, screening and exceptional aesthetics that will help meet the university’s requirements for years to come.