Progress on the new NW RFCA HQ building is proceeding at pace with (largely good weather) helping the contractors. The curtain-walling is now in place around the building with the glass elevation around and above the front entrance being installed. Other contractors continue to be integrated into the programme as quickly as responsible social distancing measures allow. We have seen the computer floor completed upstairs and the installation and commissioning of the platform lift which means that our new building will be entirely accessible irrespective of disability, a major driver in our original move out of Alexandra Court in 2018.
The benefits that our new building will bring to NW RFCA are starting to be revealed. The first floor, where our 30 employees will all be based is a bright and airy office with high visibility both around the office and to the outside world. A large skylight along with the glass walling lets in an enormous amount of natural light throughout the day and yet the environment is not hot or stuffy thanks to the tint on the windows and the brise soleil – an architectural feature that reduces heat gain by deflecting sunlight, a sun-visor for the building! Downstairs, the shared spaces are being worked on including meeting and conference rooms; toilet and shower facilities; the kitchen/staff room as well as supporting store areas; plant room; electrical and server rooms.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the swarms of workers attending to their individual disciplines, a building that will serve the needs of the Reserve Forces and Cadet organisations is now very real and visible after more than four years of planning and hard work. In contrast to the £50,000-£60,000 that Alexandra Court used to cost the Defence budget, funds that could have been used elsewhere, this new build is predicted to only cost in the order of £2,000-£2,500 per year. This has been achieved thanks to early planning by the Infrastructure Department and the extremely efficient way the building has been designed and constructed from the green roof that will quietly reduce the amount of rain water runoff, reduce energy use, mitigate against climate change and encourage biodiversity through to the energy efficient design and methods of construction.
All these factors – and a lot more besides – are contributing to our being on target to achieve a rating of BREEAM Excellent for the building. BREEAM is the world’s longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings and achieving a rating of Excellent with elements that are Outstanding will make this a landmark building that is likely to feature in case studies for affordable, sustainable design. And it’s at Altcar.
Photo below shows the mass of cabling that will power and regulate ventilation, heating and lighting by the computer controlled building management system. Also visible is the brise soleil on the windows.
The project is expected to be completed in September 2020. This is a building we can all be proud of and enjoy working in for many years to come.