Building a Training and Resource Centre was always an ambitious project for the farm and was begun in 1995 after a tragic arson attack destroyed stables and offices and resulted in the death of two much loved horses and a donkey. Locally raised money was used to lever out support from English Partnerships (now Yorkshire Forward in this region), the European Regional Development Fund and Single Regeneration Budget amongst others.
From a derelict site in 1981 to being one of the largest local employers, the farm continues to develop its aim of bringing economic prosperity to areas and to people who have consistently been left behind by mainstream economic development. The new facilities are an important symbol of what the farm is trying to do for its community and an affirmation that community economic regeneration demands the highest standards of quality and investment in the poorest sectors of society. The farm has worked hard to move on from high grant dependency to a more entrepreneurial approach to meeting social need. It always intended that creating environmentally conscious buildings on its site would raise its profile and help establish it as a regional centre for environmental action. Environmental and financial sustainability can come together if our commitment to meeting the needs of deprived communities and excluded individuals is balanced with a sound business model which recognises the value of seeing green.
The building demonstrates a model of contemporary, bio-climatic environmental architecture within an urban brown field context. It is conceived as an integrated eco system within the boundaries of the site and aims to be self-reliant in terms of using renewable energy service supply systems. The building is a low energy, high thermal mass, passive solar design powered by renewable energy from photovoltaics and a wind turbine. The need for space heating is reduced to a minimum. The building forms an integral part of the disused brown field site of demolished terraced houses. With its living green sedum roof, it is a focal point for the inner city land reclamation project to create an urban city farm for the benefit of the whole community.
The new buildings and Proven wind turbine are integrated within the existing network of buildings on site. The roof hosts an Erisco Bauder living sedum green roof system and the photovoltaic electric panels. The building design was conceived as a hybrid, with heavy weight masonry mass walls with a 250 mm wide cavity super insulated with Dritherm. The 300 mm deep super insulated sedum roof is formed with Fillcrete Masonite I beams spanning the main structure. The I members comprise of solid 47 x 47 mm timber flanges and 8 mm hardboard webs. This makes more use of a tree than does log conversion for solid timber (using 65% less raw material than conventional timber) and can utilise forest thinnings and lower grade faster growing species to create the 300 mm depth of roof for the full fill roof insulation.
Solar shading and night time cooling, from the Swedish Windows triple glazed low E triple glazing, is controlled by an extensive eaves overhang and externally mounted Jalouse shutters. A super insulated and tiled concrete floor slab, with dense concrete block walls, provides thermal mass to the buildings, retaining the sun’s latent heat and reducing the flywheel effect of rapid cooling down or overheating associated with more light-weight buildings. Very careful air tight detailing (as illustrated in the enclosed detail drawing) has reduced incidental air infiltration to a minimum around the window and door openings through the super insulated fabric of the wall structure.
The naturally absorbent and breathing masonry construction creates a vapour hydroscopic envelope without the risk of condensation. Natural tiled floors, non volatile solvent, water based paints and natural OS colour stains to exposed timber along with the avoidance of formaldehyde based toxic materials, have lead to a healthy internal air quality.
Underfloor heating has been used for the whole building, as the heavy-weight construction along with the low risk of over-heating from solar gains, meant that the slow response of this type of heating would not create problems. By directly feeding the underfloor heating pipes from the boiler (rather than using the normal mixing valves) a low flow temperature on the condensing gas boiler could be used, which improves boiler efficiency. Solar panels for hot-water production were initially considered, but cost constraints eventually led to abandoning any hot water storage and using a â€œcombinationâ€ boiler to provide instant hot water. As hot-water requirements in the building are very low – there are no showers or kitchen – this seemed a reasonable compromise. The heating is split into three separate zones covering the main sections of the building, with simple programmable thermostats providing time and temperature control to each zone.