It wasn’t enough for the University of Liverpool’s new energy centre to be more efficient. Surrounded by listed buildings, it also had to fit in with its neighbours.
Incremental growth of the university had resulted in two separate, ageing hot water systems. A new energy centre would harmonise this, and reduce energy consumption by 13,000 MWh, and CO2 emissions by over 7,000 tonnes annually – equivalent to taking 2,000 cars off the road.
The project needed planning consent before the final choice of principal plant could be made, but only after that choice would the exact size, maintenance and ventilation requirements of the gas engine and boilers be known. The solution was to clad the structure in diamond-shaped aluminium scales, avoiding the need for any conventional louvres or ventilation grilles and allowing access and ventilation at any point. With five pitched roofs, the building chimes with its historic surroundings, and its glazing allows views of the machinery inside.
Construction not only worked around academic activity but actively engaged with it, so that more than 160 students were able to learn about design, environmental impacts, and planning as they tracked this impressive addition to their campus.
"This proves that utility buildings can be striking pieces of construction."