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King Alfred's College turns over new green leaf

Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects' environmentally friendly £3.2 million library extension for King Alfred's College in Winchester was set to be officially opened today - days after being inspected by RIBA award judges.

The Martial Rose Library addition is the first major building to be constructed on the main academic campus under the college's new management regime since it adopted a new development plan in 1995.

And, as such, the college was looking for a quality building to serve as a benchmark for those to come, as well as a development which doubled the size of the existing, flawed 1970s library, accommodated 135 open access PCs, and which would achieve long-term value for money.

The 1600m 2, three-storey, open-plan scheme is linked to the existing building - which was often too hot in summer and too cold in winter - via a slender atrium. The atrium helps with the natural ventilation to the existing building by means of its automatically opening high-level vents.

And the Termodeck system was used, integrating mechanical ventilation in the structure by using the thermal mass of the concrete planks to moderate the seasonal extremes of temperature. The scheme also exemplifies high standards of insulation, with argon-filled double glazing in the curtain walling and external metal louvres angled to let low winter sun in but keep out higher-angled summer sun. By building the extension on the south side of the library it can both be seen from, and have views across, the Dytche - a green recreational space re-landscaped with matching silver and green planting. Once again this helps environmentally by providing shading to the older building to prevent solar gain.

Inside, the college commissioned the artist Sasha Ward to create a painted, back-lit, glass fin around which the accommodation stair wraps.

The glass draws on references from Winchester's history, including King Alfred's jewel. Completed in less than a year, months ahead of programme, the extension is also a demonstration project of the Department of Environment Transport and the Regions' Movement for Innovation.

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