- Planning and Design
Planning and Design Process
The brief and design were evolved using ‘Planning for Real’ techniques (developed by the Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation), involving the whole CAT staff body.
WISE will provide people the opportunity to gain vital skills in emerging environmental technologies through its Graduate School of the Environment and short courses. The brief was to provide the following accommodation; 200 seat lecture theatre, 3 workshops, 3 seminar rooms, bio-laboratory, common room/Foyer/Bar, offices for the WISE education staff, 24 double study bedrooms and service accommodation.
Although the site is an unpromising solar one (on the north side of a steep Welsh valley), it has great charm because it was undeveloped waste land for 50 years and has been colonised with diverse species of vegetation and wildlife. The scheme reflects this by creating inward and outward-looking external spaces and framing views of distant mountains. The slate-waste ground conditions allowed the building to be close to existing trees without fear of subsidence – a characteristic which has been exploited.
WISE uses natural building materials and methods such as rammed earth in the dramatic curvilinear walls of the lecture theatre, hemp, lime and timber throughout the accommodation and main teaching areas. The sensitive architecture approach achieves a light, warm building.
The building design has an extremely well insulated and air-tight enclosure and uses high-performance glazing to enhance natural day-light and passive heat gain, meaning that energy requirements are minimal.
Waste and water systems are designed using natural zero energy treatment.
The energy sources for space and water heating are either direct solar or bio-fuels. Electricity comes from CAT’s own renewable supply (hydro, wind, PVs and wood-chip CHP).
Graduate School of the Environment
- Design and Construction Information
Client: Centre for Alternative Technology
Architect: Pat Borer and David Lea
Date of Completion: Summer 2010
Contract value: £4.5m
Site Area: CAT 15ha, WISE 0.2ha
Awards: Nominated for the European Union's Mies Van der Rohe award for contemporary arhitecture. Listed as the favourite completed building of 2010 by the Architects Journal. Daily Telegraph's building of the year 2010. It came 4th in the Guardian's top 10 buildings of 2010.