architecture circular economy

Building of the week: Swansea University’s Active Classroom

Today’s building of the week comes from my mum’s alma mater, Swansea University, and their buildings research group SPECIFIC. The Swansea Bay campus is home to the Active Classroom, an award-winning demonstration building that tests a number of pioneering technologies.

Most of the photos show the building from the angle on the left below, which is obviously the more attractive side. But it’s the dark side on the right that’s more interesting.

Those black wall panels are perforated steel sheets that trap heat and warm the air. The warm air is pumped inside and used to heat the building and provide hot water. Above the black south-facing wall is a roof made with thin-film PV integrated into the roof panels. They’re made by a company spun out from SPECIFIC, and it’s the first time they’ve been used on a building.

There are other firsts inside. SPECIFIC have invented an electric underfloor heating system for raised-access floors, also used here as a world first. Saltwater batteries store energy from the solar system, a UK first, but not a last if this organic-based, cradle-to-cradle certified battery lives up to expectations – they can run the building for two days if necessary. Altogether there are eight different technologies or building techniques used for the first time in the building.

Other features include solar windows, a living wall, and the building is also 100% recyclable. It could be dismantled and every element can be reused. As a test building, everything is being monitored for performance. In 2017 the building generated 1.6 times more energy than it used, making it the first carbon positive educational building in the country.

There are more details in this case study pdf, and you might want to check out SPECIFIC and some of their other demonstration buildings.

1 comment

  1. I went to Swansea; great place. I hope they manage to get every major UK house and office builder to take a good look around – indeed attend lessons within the building on the technologies around them.

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