- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 23 Feb 2017
Broadmeadows Primary School
In 2011, Roderic Bunn revisited Broadmeadows Primary School in Melbourne to see how construction of the ground-coupled ventilation system was progressing, and how the designers were using innovative low-energy light sources.
Innovation can fall into one of two camps: that which fulfils a client’s craving need, or that which fulfills a designer’s craving desire. Satisfying both is quite rare, especially with ostensibly active green technologies that often create more management and maintenance than clients have been lead to expect.
In June 2010, Delta T reported on the construction of Broadmeadows Primary School in Melbourne, Australia, where the architect (Now Achitecture) aimed to cool the school’s supply air by drawing it through water-encased foundations (‘Pooled Resource’, Delta T June 2010). BSRIA took the opportunity to revisit the site in November 2010 to see how the project was shaping up.
Broadmeadows is notable as it signals a major shift in Australian school design. The passive engineering is far more akin to UK design practice than traditional Australian engineering, which tends to air-condition or mechanically ventilate as a matter of course. Here, ventilation relies on a natural thermosyphon, where supply air, up to 40°C in summer, is drawn through the water-encased ducts and injected into the occupied space. Air rises through internal heat gains and wind-assistance to be exhausted at high level.
A high quality of construction, particularly fabric airtightness, is required to ensure that the thermosyphon operates correctly. Heat gains from lighting and small power need to be strategically located, based on intrinsically efficient equipment, and well controlled. To this end the architect specified the use of light-emitting diode (LED) lamps for the sports hall. With sports hall lighting usually very energy-intensive, LEDs might just be the great get-out-of-gaol card that school designers are seeking.
It will be useful to see if the LEDs deliver comparable light at a much lower wattage.
Above. Fluorescent luminaires in recessed fittings or metal halide lamps in a pendant fitting would usually be appropriate for a high-bay sports hall of the kind provided at Broadmeadows. Instead, the architect opted for a Chinese-made Zhejiang LED Pendant fitting of 120 W (100 x 12 W LED arrays), around half the wattage of a conventional pendant lamp suitable for this context. The gross weight of the fitting, with a glass light deflector, is under 14 kg. The supplier quotes a life of 30,000 h, a luminous flux of 9,600 lm, and a beam angle of 130 degrees.
Above. Good levels of airtightness at junctions of walls to floors and roofs, as well as around penetrations such as windows, will be vital for ensuring that the thermosyphon effect is maintained. The architects are aware that Australian builders are on a steep learning curve — not supported by any requirements for airtightess testing in the Australian building codes — and that very good levels of sealing will be needed.
Above. The intake ducts, taped off and yet to be finished off with cowls, adjacent to the school’s external walls.
Above. Passive design doesn’t mean that user controls should be basic. If anything, the user controls need to be designed with even greater care so the occupants know precisely what button to press to get the desired effect. Automatic lighting controls often alienate building occupants when they turn on and off nonsensically. A lack of manual override can compound the problems. At Broadmeadows, lighting can be switched between automatic and manual control using very intuitive and well-labelled switches.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
When is there a right to light, and what happens if it is obstructed?
What would the nationalisation of economic infrastructure mean for GB?
A new guide to improving value by reducing design error.
We've reached 80,000 page views a day and 10,000 registered users. Why not join them?
A masterplan is a framework within which a location is encouraged to develop or change. Read our introductory article.
New consultation announced on a specialist Housing Court to settle landlord-tenant disputes.
ICE responds to a transport consultation advising the government to make decisions enabling more inclusive cities.
BRE and Loughborough University complete first phase refurbishment of demonstration home.
How the risk of collapse of fibrous plaster ceilings is being addressed in theatres.
If you’re a great writer and have practical experience of the construction industry, it could be you.
Frustrated by long documents or technical jargon? Put off by sign-up forms or costs? Take this 5 min survey to help improve construction knowledge.