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Research and enterprise activity

Research and enterprise activity is one of the primary functions of ArchiLab and a number of active researchers are involved in research within the broad field of environmental and sustainable building design. ArchiLab has successfully secured a number of research and enterprise projects, funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), InnovateUK, and the AHRC.

Currently funded research projects and collaborators

CLIVE CHAPMAN ARCHITECTS (TSB) (£120K)

A two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funded by InnovateUK involving ArchiLab and Stephen Pretlove as the lead supervisor and Clive Chapman, director and founder of Clive Chapman Architects, in Twickenham, as the company partner. The project aims to develop of a novel, holistic system integrating the design, construction and operation of genuinely sustainable, lifelong, low carbon buildings. This will lead to the practice being able to offer an enabling consultancy service to registered providers of housing in the local region and beyond in order that they can procure, maintain and operate sustainable housing stock. The project involves a significant collaboration with one of the largest social housing providers in the region, the Richmond Housing Partnership, and work is ongoing. The associate, Andrew Alford, now leads this project, under supervision of company and academic supervisors.

HUGH STRANGE ARCHITECTS / ARCHITECTURAL ARCHIVE (£1.5K)

The project aims to demonstrate how an un-insulated solid cross-laminated timber (CLT) building envelope performs as a thermal and moisture sink in environmentally sensitive spaces. The building design is intended to provide stable conditions suitable for the archiving of sensitive material and the research outcome will either demonstrate this or make clear in what ways it fails and how it could have succeeded.

Cross-laminated timber is an engineered timber product constructed off-site with low environmental impact. It is vapour permeable (20-50μ-value, water vapour resistance), has insulating properties (0.13 W/mK thermal conductivity) and has thermal mass (480-500 kg/m3 density). However, existing data on the thermal and moisture performance of CLT available to practitioners is limited and in this project was driven by existing static U-value information that met the current building regulation requirements. This represents a simplification of the actual thermal and hygroscopic performance of the material and does not take into account the material’s decremental delay (thermal diffusivity) or moisture absorption / desorption properties. The research will provide data recording the dynamic U-value performance of the material in practice; information aimed at documenting the unique combination of thermal mass, insulation and moisture retention that solid timber construction possesses.

Previously funded research projects

LEE EVANS PARTNERSHIP (£5K)

Innovation voucher funding was secured from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to form a collaboration with the Lee Evans Partnership in Canterbury and London in order to carry out a number of research projects and to investigate the possibility of working on more substantial funded research in the field. This work included the evaluation and testing of the practice’s proposals for a PassivHaus refurbishment of a farmhouse in Kent and the testing and monitoring of a number of church heating system strategies in Kent and Sussex.

PARAGON COMMUNITY HOUSING GROUP (£1.5K)

Expertise and equipment in ArchiLab was used to carry out post-occupancy evaluation (POE) studies in seven newly built local domestic dwellings which were certified to Levels 3, 4 and 5 of the current Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH). These dwellings incorporated a range of innovative fabric, heating, ventilation and renewable energy systems which were evaluated during a year-long monitoring process. This work was carried out in conjunction with Clive Chapman Architects in Twickenham, who acted as designers and CfSH assessors for the majority of these dwellings. The project involved the monitoring of internal and external environmental conditions, the measurement of energy and water consumption, thermographic surveys and occupancy behavioural interviews. The dwellings are highly insulated and airtight and incorporate a range of innovative technology, including triple glazing, MVHR, mini-CHP, PV panels and grey water recycling.

MSPACE GROUP LTD (TSB) (£280K)

A three-year, double associate, Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funded by the TSB involving ArchiLab and Stephen Pretlove as the lead supervisor and Miles Dobson, chairman of the mspace Group, as the company partner. The project aimed to develop and embed sustainable and environmental strategies in the design, construction and occupation of domestic and commercial buildings.

The mspace group is an unusual organisation in that they are architects, builders and owner/occupiers of a significant portfolio of domestic and commercial building stock. The project therefore enabled a critical examination and assessment of the impact of sustainability in the design, construction and occupation of buildings within a single organisation rather than the traditionally fragmented structure of these stages. It enabled a true cradle-to-cradle approach to be developed within the organisation and allowed feedback mechanisms to have a real impact on the processes involved.

ENVIRONMENT TRUST FOR RICHMOND UPON THAMES (AHRC) (£60K)

An AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) between Kingston University (ArchiLab) and the Environment Trust for Richmond upon Thames, to fund a PhD studentship entitled ‘The design of community buildings and landscapes as sustainability learning spaces that encourage.

The main emphasis of the project was sustainability and there were two key threads which were explored. The first was the investigation of sustainable building and landscape design in the context of the Twickenham River Centre and how to ensure exemplar sustainable design. The second was an investigation into how to design buildings and landscapes to be educational tools demonstrating sustainability in the wider context to the local community and to visitors.

CLIVE CHAPMAN ARCHITECTS (TSB) (£110K)

A two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funded by the TSB involving ArchiLab and Stephen Pretlove as the lead supervisor and Clive Chapman, director and founder of Clive Chapman Architects, in Twickenham, as the company partner. The project aim was to gain in-house expertise in sustainable and environmental design and to develop and establish a specialist sustainability service. This project has been completed and was awarded the highest grade of ‘outstanding’ by the funding body, The Technology Strategy Board. The associate, Sidonie Kade, led the sustainability unit of the practice on completion of the project and then moved to Crossboundaries in Beijing, China, as senior architect.