The 24,000 ft² BREEAM 'Excellent' rated Port Talbot Justice Centre houses an Informal Youth Court, Tribunal Courts and a two-storey Central Fines Unit (CFU). BREEAM ‘Excellent’ was a prerequisite of the brief from HM Courts and Tribunals Service. The building’s BREEAM rating supports the Ministry of Justice Green plan, as well as enhancing the user’s experience of the building.
The building attained an EPC rating of 27. Its sustainability strategy is based on the first principles of sustainable design namely orientation, minimisation of solar gain, natural ventilation, thermal efficiency etc. There is no “green bling” as the careful design of the building regulates its environment through:
The building is orientated with the long axis North-South in order to present the smallest aspect to the midday sun. End elevations contain little fenestration due to the modular linear nature of the office accommodation. This will significantly reduce the need for cooling by reducing solar gain to a minimum.
This in turn reduces energy consumption and by default reduces carbon emissions. Daylight factors are much higher than the standard 2% requirement - combined with a solar control lighting strategy this reduces reliance on artificial lighting.
The windows of the offices face East and West and are therefore only exposed to direct sunshine in the morning and afternoon. During the midday peak sunshine falls on these windows obliquely and therefore is blocked by external vertical shading devices.
Shading comprises a reveal created by the projecting brick piers, together with suitably sized vertical aluminium shades, effectively creating a vertical slot through the height of the building. The windows themselves were specified to achieve a high shading factor from peak sunshine. This was achieved through a combination of solar control glass, fixed shading and sun blinds. The relative strengths of each of these measures were evaluated and tested using thermal energy modelling to achieve the optimum balance between cost, functionality and transparency.
Internal blinds also provide occupants with control over any glare issues associated with low angled sunshine on these elevations. Those areas requiring little or no fenestration were located on the western side of the spine and the Southern end of the short wing. This strategy frees up the majority of the East and West facades in order to maintain daylight penetration into the office areas and allow views out.
This emphasis on natural daylight together with an efficient thermal envelope has driven the design. The building in fact achieved a BREEAM Innovation credit (under HEA 1) for this. Flexibility was also important to the developers and as such the building is capable of functioning as a state-of-the-art Court building whilst being able to convert to a B1 office without major disruption to the building envelope or base-build interiors.
A 13.5 metre wide floorplate on a 1500 mm planning grid has been utilised to create this adaptable and flexible building. 6 metre wide structural bays allow for an open plan or cellular solution for office layouts (CFU) whilst providing quality daylighting and views out to satisfy the requirements of BREEAM.
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