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NatWest Media Centre, Lord's Cricket Ground

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Natwest Media Centre at Lord's is due to open by the end of 1998. The shell, currently being fitted out, has already been seen worldwide in television coverage of this year's test match and one-day internationals.

This is one of the most important Lord's developments in recent times. The brief was to bring together radio and tv presentation teams and facilities for over 100 journalists and photographers, as the media link to the outside world.

Located over the ends of the Compton and Edrich stands, opposite the main pavilion, the centre allows unprecedented views of playing areas. The brief and location presented many environmental-engineering challenges:

to achieve appropriate comfort levels

to maintain close links with ground atmosphere

to avoid glare reflecting on to playing areas, and avoid reflections from other parts of the ground

to provide high levels of acoustic separation between specialist media rooms.

Early work assessed likely summertime temperatures given the extensive glazing to the west elevation and the nature of the lightweight aluminium structure. The original strategy took advantage of the height and location of the building, utilising consequent higher levels of air movement by designing a highly ventilated structural cavity. But efficiency was limited by the restrictive nature of the structural zone and the demanding acoustic requirements. The solution moved inevitably towards a comfort-cooled environment with limited areas retaining natural ventilation. Underfloor structural zones were retained for ducted air distribution and location of condenser equipment. Within individual rooms, fan-coil solutions were generally adopted, with the introduction via air nozzles of fresh/cooled air to writers' desk areas.

To investigate daylight/sunlight effects, the team produced simple physical models of the building and ground, and hired the artificial sun and sky facilities at the Bartlett School of Architecture. The client quickly began to see how the building will work. Studies showed:

a comparison of low-reflectance glass, traditional float glass and low- iron glass

reflections from the surface of these glasses

effect internally on quality of light

possible silhouetting of building occupants when viewed from the playing area

Reflections from the external skins.

Acoustic criteria were set in line with existing media facilities, with improvements in some areas. All technical areas perform to a level of nr25, with nr30 in central circulation spaces and nr35 elsewhere. Decay times averaged over the frequency range were set at between 0.18 and 0.22 seconds.

For partitions and external glazing, single-skin 12mm toughened glass is necessary to equal current standards, with 16mm laminated glazing necessary to bring standards in line with those elsewhere.

Buro Happold carried out a detailed thermal and condensation risk analysis of the aluminium structural envelope. The study identified the importance of a vapour barrier within the internal skin of the structural zones, together with breather membranes over the void insulation and venting of the cavity.

Peter Moseley, Neil Billett

Architect: Future Systems

Building services engineering: Buro Happold

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