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Water Education &
Research Centre

Outline

The Water Education & Research Centre was a theoretical project carried out as part of the BA (Hons) Architecture course at Manchester School of Architecture. As the principal project of the third and final year of the course, the Water Education & Research Centre provided the perfect opportunity to bring together and showcase techniques learned during the Part I of my architectural training.

The new Water Education and Research Centre in East Manchester was conceived as a combined museum and research facility designed to raise awareness of issues relating to water on a local and global scale.

Utilising naturally-available rainwater and surface water in the site, the entire building water management strategy from capture and storage to manipulation and redistribution is presented in a ‘transparent’ fashion to the general public to raise awareness of the problems of existing water management practices, and to demonstrate the potential of naturally-available water in all of aspects of the performance of a building.

Title

WATER EDUCATION & RESEARCH CENTRE

Client

CITY OF MANCHESTER

Portfolio

BA (HONS) ARCHITECTURE

Date

JUNE 10, 2008
.

Context

Global

The ever-pertinent issue of freshwater availability is an issue largely overlooked in a city such as Manchester, which experiences some of the highest levels of rainfall in the British Isles. The lack of awareness in the general public leads to irresponsible consumption and reliance upon antiquated and wasteful systems of water management, while in other parts of the world, millions fight for their daily existence.

The proposed design must promote greater awareness of the impacts of climate change in the world, and our contribution to the problem. It must also promote an understanding of the acute challenges of freshwater provision in the world, and bring to the attention of the general public the consequences of continued irresponsible water management and consumption.

 

Local

As the last of available land in Greater Manchester is converted to housing, and former flood plains are drained and developed, a greater strain is put on surface water and municipal water drainage. With climate change and the increasing occurrence of freak weather events, recent flooding has highlighted the devastating consequences of interference in the water table, and destruction of natural water cycles.

The water management strategy for the proposed site had to permit, to the greater extent, the existing natural water movement to continue, so as to not impact upon the local water table. If large scale development is proposed, this will mean the diversion and redistribution of the rainwater from the roof and back into the surface ground layer.

Gallery

Design Response

The proposed Water Education and Research Centre captures and utilises water in ways visible to the visitor in order to raise awareness of common design downfalls, and demonstrate its potential in all aspects of the building. Rainwater harvesting and permeable surfaces fulfil the water demands of the building, while helping to reduce storm water and surface water run-off. Excess water is allowed to permeate the ground, much as it was able to do before any intervention on the site.

 

Summer Performance

Water is also utilised in the environmental control of the building. During the warmer months, cascading external pools of captured water provide a means to cool the building through pre-conditioned external air.  Fresh air in the exterior naturally cools and drops over exposed water surfaces before entering the building, through low level vents. The height of the building in the centre provides the necessary vertical differential to allow warm cycled air to exit the building above the central foyer area.

 

Winter Performance

In the cooler months, captured water from rainfall is stored in vast tanks bordering the foyer area of the building, providing a visual reference to the process. Filtered canal water at the lower level is stored in interconnected pools at base level. Through the manipulation of thermal mass, both provide a means to heat and retain heat within the building through minimal energy input. Direct solar energy captured from the sun heats the stored water, while small PV-fed heating elements provide the necessary ‘top-up’ to the desired heated ambient temperature.

South Elevation Rendering along M40 Motorway

South Elevation along M40 Motorway

North Elevation Rendering from Entrance Road

North Elevation from Entrance Road

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