London’s Buckley Building Showcases the Merits of Refurbishment

Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group discusses how the team designed an office workplace suitable for the 21st century, while recognizing the building’s industrial heritage.

Converting the Buckley Building—a 1930s London printing and paper factory—into office workspace presented a unique and interesting opportunity for Tetra Tech.

Reusing an existing structure is a significant sustainable initiative, saving enormous amounts of embedded carbon. Aside from the historical aesthetic of the building, the Buckley Building is built on an island site, allowing for daylight to enter from 360 degrees and minimizing the need for artificial lighting. Sustainable lighting solutions were developed with the architect to ensure that every building element was carefully considered. A combination of active and passive design principles was incorporated to achieve aesthetic and sustainability targets.

One of the first measures was to overcome the challenge of retaining the character steel Crittall-branded windows while complying with building regulations on energy conservation. To reduce solar gains, a high-performance façade solution had to be conceived. The design team’s challenge was to find a high-efficient solar glazing system that could be installed within the existing frames. Retaining the opening windows was also important to offer the client a mixed mode system to make the most of natural ventilation when external conditions permitted.

Significant attention was placed upon an appropriate heating and comfort cooling system. A tailored, on-floor displacement ventilation system was selected, offering comfort cooling to the office space as well as providing flexibility to the occupier and zonal temperature control. This made a significant contribution to energy efficiency, while also playing a key engineering role in helping to conceal the cooling and heating system.

In keeping with its historic past, the overall concept of the building is one of simplicity. The services strategy is uncomplicated and robust, enabling optimum internal conditions to be achieved for the occupants. The building was stripped back to the rawness of exposed brick, concrete, and steel, which was then softened with modern fittings such as a sweeping brass handrail on the stairwell and leather furnishings. The result is a high-quality, energy-efficient and flexible office building with a sustainable rooftop garden affording a breathtaking view of the London cityscape.