The Enterprise Centre

University of East Anglia and The Adapt Low Carbon Group

Project Outline

The Enterprise Centre at The University of East Anglia, dubbed by the press as the UK's greenest building, has been designed and delivered to achieve the Passivhaus standard and a BREEAM outstanding rating. The new university building aims to encourage new sustainable businesses from graduates who emerge from its academic research programme and those involved in activities within the wider Norwich Research Park.

The Enterprise Centre provides space for business support workshops, networking activities, open plan offices, incubation and hatchery space (research and development activities) for new graduate startup companies and other businesses in the Knowledge Economy. The building also provides a base for business support through the University’s Low Carbon MBA and associated graduate development and entrepreneurship programmes operated by the Norwich Business School.

The Concept

The concept comprises a new building and landscape that is an exemplar of low embodied energy and carbon construction technologies, through the use of natural and bio-renewable materials sourced through local supply chains. The Enterprise Centre is a recognised centre of excellence at a European level, providing world-class facilities through its sustainable design and use of materials.

On Site / Nov. ‘13
Completion / Jun. ’15
Gross Internal Floor Area
3,400 sqm
Construction Type
Timber Frame with Lime Render and Thatch Cladding
Total / £11,600,000

The building is wonderful and seems to be gaining enthusiastic responses from those who are using it. Congratulations on delivering for us so effectively.

From Marie Francis OBE, Chair of Incrops and Centre for Built Environment.

Architype, in a team led by main contractor Morgan Sindall, won the OJEU advertised design competition because their entry not only demonstrated that the many exacting sustainability criteria had been fulfilled, but also because they had designed a striking and beautiful piece of architecture that was well conceived as part of a larger masterplan.

John French, CEO, Project Director, ADAPT Low Carbon Group


The building is an important element of the demonstration, awareness and bespoke support process; providing live and historical data of the performance of renewable materials in a format that is industry standard. By being able to physically see the materials and data change over time and understand the impacts, this is the 1st international building to offer Passivhaus performance alongside renewable materials.

Embodied within it is a range of carbon monitoring systems, which show the impacts on energy efficiency and carbon offsetting. Floors, walls and ceilings are exposed so that the configuration of the installed materials can be readily demonstrated. New materials can be substituted over time to provide up to date knowledge of materials, which have recently been introduced. The building has become a key element in the University’s estate master plan.


The Enterprise Centre has been delivered using a forward thinking 'Single Point Delivery' (SPD) form of contract for all work stages (based on NEC3), that promotes collaborative working practice, with main contractor Morgan Sindall as the Single Point Deliverer.

To meet the requirements of the brief, we designed the building to meet a 100 year design life, Passivhaus certification and BREEAM Outstanding. The building also exceeds the local planning requirement for 10% of the building’s energy to be from renewables through the use of roof mounted PVs. Embodied energy has been a major focus at design stage. The design is well above Best Practice, with embodied carbon (including sequestration) between 1/5 and 1/4 of many new university buildings.

Landscaping is a critical component of our scheme. We have reinforced the link with the historic gardens of Earlham Hall, retained many of the existing landscape features, including the beech hedge, and incorporated new landscape features such as the central courtyard, an echo of other adjacent courtyards, featuring a beautiful flint SUDs bed surrounding the main lecture theatre.

2016 BCO National Awards - 'Best of the Best' and 'Best Corporate Workplace'

Consultation Process

We have undertaken a signification amount of consultation and engagement which has underpinned the development of the project, alongside the team's thorough commitment to collaborative working. This has occurred at many different levels, from intimate sessions with the user client, to large stakeholder workshops and numerous engagements with Norwich City Council Planning Authority, Conservation Officers, Greater Norwich Development Partnership Design Review Panel, Highway and Parks and Open Spaces Committees, as part of the formal pre-application process. The process also included an exhibition of the proposed designs through August 2012, where members of the community were invited to comment on the proposals, and a presentation was given to the Norwich Forum for the Construction Industry.

In terms of consultation and engagement with the UEA, there has been
 a structured series of intensive workshops, which have involved a large number of user group representatives in addition to the clientside project team and design team. This has included staff from Estates, Adapt Low Carbon Group, Teaching and Learning, Space Management, Cleaning Services, Careers, Research and Enterprise, Inclusion, Maintenance, IT Infrastructure, Grounds Staff, Sustainability and Biodiversity and also student representation.


The workshops looked at all aspects of the masterplan and designs across both sites, and included specific workshops on elements such as landscape, teaching and learning spaces, catering, the enterprise spaces, the demonstration and exhibition area, servicing and inclusive design.

As part of this process of engagement, and to ensure that the building properly meets the needs of users at each design stage, the project utilised a DQI (Design Quality Indicator) process to record user consultation and is also following BSRIA’s Soft Landings Framework.

2017 RIBA East Regional Award Winner & RIBA Sustainable Project of The Year

2016 BREEAM Awards – Best Education Project

DQI Process

Essentially, the early stages of the DQI process established the priorities and aspirations that the Client has for the new building and surrounding grounds, headings of “Functionality”, “Build Quality” and “Impact”, and identified what further detailed design work was required and who should contribute to its development (such as ongoing stakeholder engagement workshops). As part of this process, there was also an appraisal of an existing and similar university facility, the Thomas Paine Building, so that the team could better understand how a recent design performed in the eyes of the various users.

For the early part of the design at RIBA Stage D, there was a mid design review, to assess the design development against the original aspirations. This resulted in a recorded set of comments, suggestions, likes and dislikes for the design team to action as the design develops.

Soft Landings

Soft Landings is a set of procedures considered as early as possible in a project with the ultimate aim of providing a graduated handover and professional building aftercare. Soft Landings not only describes a way
 of passing a building smoothly from the build phase to the occupation phase, but also a mechanism for ensuring that the operational needs of the building are fully considered and appreciated at the design stage.

These sessions have been supplemented by numerous other sessions, including meetings with the project board and a core stakeholder group to review the design, cost, programming and procurement of the project in more detail, and specific meetings to review biodiversity, M&E, occupancy, security and fire design.

The design team also consulted with the architectural liaison officer, Building Control, the UEA’s insurers, Zurich, the design team for the Earlham Hall Project and held various sessions to develop the building’s innovative palette of materials and components, including a number of ‘use of local timber’ and thatch workshops.

The Enterprise Centre will be designed to achieve BREEAM Outstanding, combining best practice across a wide range of sustainability measures.

  • Biodiversity features such as insect hotels, bat and bird boxes and the display bed terraces enhance ecological value.
  • Site waste management and building recycling nodes.
  • Water-saving sanitaryware specification and reusing rainwater for flushing helps with the Water credits.
  • Low NOx heating, SUDS and no active mechanical cooling
  • Scope for innovation credits through innovative use of materials, BIM and user interaction with the building.
  • Good daylighting and ventilation.
  • The predicted ‘A’ rated EPC gives the Centre high Energy credits.
  • Cycle racks, showers and lockers contribute to the Transport credits.

The Enterprise Centre will be designed to achieve Passivhaus certification, which provides a comfortable internal environment along with radically reduced energy usage.

Designing to meet Passivhaus requires attention to key design features.

  • Triple glazed windows allow beneficial solar gain and good daylighting as well as good insulation levels.
  • Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) is used to provide fresh air to all spaces. Additional summer ventilation is provided by opening windows and louvres, stack effect and high level exhaust.
  • A continuous air tightness layer is detailed around the building.
  • Super-thick insulation is wrapped all the way around the building in a ‘duvet’ layer.

Shading Analysis

Architype has undertaken a design study of shading The Enterprise Centre to work out the optimal level of shading to improve internal comfort. Through a range of analysis, general outcomes have concluded; the need for adaptable shading based on predicted weather patterns across the UK in the future and a variable shade height above the window opposed to a variable shade length as this proves to be more cost effective. The analysis has also highlighted the need to slightly re-think the allocation of South facing windows deemed essential by Passivhaus and consider the internal heat gains in parallel.

Likewise, analysis concluded high material mass to be effective for controlled heat gains, however not at the expense of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), in response we have opted for a low carbon, high mass solution.

Future Climate data

Future Climate data was generated for the project by the University of East Anglia Climate Team. With this information a range of design scenarios were simulated in PHPP (Passivhaus Planning Package) to identify the most robust solution over an 87 year period. The lifecycle carbon study, including embodied carbon, allowed optimisation of the building mass, glazing ratios, shading and natural ventilation design. Sensitivity analysis was carried out for both a warming and cooling scenario.

Architype Team

Project Partners

Morgan Sindall
Churchman Landscape Architects
M&E, Structural, Acoustic
Lifecycle Cost Analysis

Related Material


  • 2017 RIBA East Regional Award Winner & RIBA Sustainable Project of The Year
  • 2017 Civic Trust Awards - National Award Winner
  • 2016 Constructing Excellence National Awards - Innovation Project of the Year
  • 2016 BCO National Awards - 'Best of the Best' and 'Best Corporate Workplace'
  • 2016 Structural Timber Awards - 'Best Use of Timber' and 'Best Low Energy Project'
  • 2016 Norfolk Association of Architects Presidents Award
  • 2016 Construction News Awards - Sustainable Project of the Year
  • 2016 AJ100 - AJ Readers Choice Award for Building of the Year
  • 2016 LABC East Anglia Awards - Best Education Building
  • 2016 Guardian Sustainable Business Awards - Winner of Built Environment Category
  • 2016 BREEAM Awards, Best Education Project
  • 2015 Education Estates Awards, Sustainable Project of the Year
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