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Service engineer's account

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The Sadler's Wells Trust was keen to minimise the building's reliance on refrigeration, heating and electricity.

As the name implies, water plays a key role in the successful performance of the theatre. A 200m well taps into the abundant water supplies in the chalk layers below, drawing water for drinking and for cooling which is then recycled through the wcs.

This system, although traditionally used in the early part of the century, is rarely used in modern buildings, and Sadler's Wells is one of the first green buildings to tap into this sustainable resource.

Careful design of the auditorium and auditorium diffusers has ensured that air may be supplied at 16-18degreesC from high-level diffusers to achieve an average auditorium room temperature of 23-25degreesC.

This temperature is allowed to rise slightly higher in summer to cater for the lighter clothing the audience is 'expected to wear'. During winter, when heavier clothes are worn, the lower external temperatures are used to achieve a slightly lower average auditorium temperature of 22-24degreesC.

The borehole water cooling has meant that in place of the traditional noisy chillers, a simple pump set is used, thereby reducing space and capital costs (approx £30,000) and considerably reducing running costs.

In winter, the air-handling units are designed to allow full air recirculation and heat recovery, thus reducing the heating load of the building to an absolute minimum.

The foyer space is principally daylit with large glazed areas. The glazing faces south-east and south-west and allows passive solar heating, while a solar-reactive heating system ensures that maximum advantage is taken of the 'free' heat.

During summer, automatic opening windows and a stack-driven ventilation system prevent overheating. The summer heat gain is additionally controlled by the fortuitous planting of a number of deciduous plane trees.

Guy Battle - Battle McCarthy

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