Heart of Blakenhall
In one of the most deprived areas of Wolverhampton, Blakenhall Community and Healthy Living Centre has become a focal point for non-denominational community activities and a hub for community service delivery.The centre provides a non-denominational, local hub of mixed-use community facilities (hall for sports/events, fitness suite, meeting rooms, offices, crèche & café), with links to extended community services and external sports grounds at the adjacent St. Luke’s School (also designed by Architype).
The building pilots a district energy scheme making use of surplus heat generated by the nearby St. Luke’s biomass boiler, during times of low building occupancy such as evenings and school holidays. A joint venture between Wolverhampton City Council and All Saints and Blakenhall Community Development, the project demonstrates a very successful collaborative working ethos between client, design team and contractor.
- On Site / Apr. ‘08
- Completion / Aug. ‘10
- Gross Internal Floor Area
- 1,820 sqm
- Construction Type
- Timber Frame
- Total / £5,600,000
Building Design Concept
The massing of the building responds to the surrounding urban grain, providing an immediate street presence to Barcrot Road and a more public/civic presence to Bromley Street. Adjacent sites to the east and west have similarly set back buildings with green spaces in front, offering a softer urban grain to Bromley Street and an uninterrupted view of St. Luke’s Church, to which the community centre responds.
The building comprises two clearly defined ‘blocks’ separated by a transparent ‘slot’. Each block responds to surrounding context. The East block reflects a blend of industrial and housing context, expressed in brick cladding with vertical openings of glazing and timber ventilation panels. The West block reflects a blend of St. Luke’s C of E School and industrial context, expressed with timber cladding with north facing ‘sawtooth’ rooflights.
The central glazed slot identifies with both the external division and the internal connection between the two blocks, and forms the circulation spine, bringing light and delight to the heart of the building. The building has four public faces and is approachable from all sides through a permeable boundary. It strives to serve as common ground amidst the surrounding community facilities.
Sustainability and Environmental Strategies
Sustainability was key strategy generator and intended to inform all levels of design and decision making throughout the development of the project. The sustainable strategy adopted for the centre was a two fold approach; minimising energy consumption (in both construction and building use) coupled with passive moderation of the internal environment and natural materials; locally sourced whenever possible. A highly insulated, air tight envelope with openings carefully calculated for light and air, necessitates minimum energy loads throughout the building’s life whilst maintaining comfort levels appropriate to occupancy and activity.
Timber has been specified throughout the building, from major engineered structures and prefabricated timber cassettes to cladding and internal finishes. All timber is accredited and, where possible, locally sourced, greatly reducing embodied energy expenditure against comparative steel or concrete systems. The bricks are also sourced locally, reducing embodied energy.
District heating link between St. Luke's School and
Blakenhall Community and Healthy Living Centre
A Biomass (wood chip) boiler has been installed at the neighbouring St. Lukes C of E School building to which a district heating scheme between the school and the centre has been installed, making use of the school boiler when the school building is unoccupied and there is a demand for heating energy in the centre. The district heating system comprises of a pair of below ground heating pipes linking the two buildings, and an additional pumped secondary circuit in the school plant room. When there is a demand for heat in the centre, but not in the school, then the circuit is enabled and heat exported. In the building, a plate heat exchanger is used to transfer heat into the heating system. A heat meter is used to measure the amount of heat exported in this way, for billing purposes.
This is considered a viable way of making best use of the investment in a Biomass boiler at St. Lukes C of E School, without the need for an additional biomass boiler at Blakenhall Community and Healthy Living Centre. The boiler is continuously used at evenings and weekends, and during school holidays; it's continuous operation makes its installation more cost effective.
- M&E Engineers
- Ernest Griffiths
- Structural Engineers
- Price and Myers
- Smith Thomas Consult
- Thomas Vale Construction
- Blakenhall was commended at the Wolverhampton Environmental Awards 2012