Gaia Architects

Passive Refurbishment of '60's building

Centre for Environmental Sciences

Client: University of Abertay, Dundee

Gaia conceived an "environmentally benign" building embracing healthy materials, good indoor air quality and resource efficiency in keeping with the context of environmental responsibility.

Gaia undertook a feasibility study into developing the top floor of this city-centre teaching block and were subsequently commissioned to provide architectural and project management services.


The conversion of the top floor enabled the building to benefit from natural lighting and ventilation, while innovative air and water filtration methods were proposed in conjunction with a two-storey glazed atrium that doubles as an impressive reception area with a spectacular view over the city, River Tay and beyond. High levels of insulation and airtightness aimed to eliminate the need and expense of a heating system. The option to install one has never been implemented. Computer aided simulation was undertaken (with ESRU - University of Strathclyde) to assess the performance of the buildiing as the design evolved. The building also housed the Centre for Wood Science and the design took account of developments in timber innovation along with established good practice in detailing and specification.


Gaia Architects also undertook a study to assess the technical and financial viability of incorporating renewable energy systems. This indicated that measures already taken had achieved significantly more at significantly less cost than the adoption of renewables.


The first phase of the project was delivered in 2005 under budget and on time and provides 800m2 of office and research facilities. Discussions with planning contributed significantly to the urban design and masterplan concept of the campus. The client has expressed great satisfaction with the facilities in use. The refurbishment experience has also been employed at Nicolson Street, Edinburgh to add value, quality and environmental performance to a desolate housing block.


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