Bridgend County Borough Council
Kenfig National Nature Reserve
|Date of Practical Completion||30th May 2007|
|Main Contractor||Stafford Construction Ltd|
|Chief Architect||Martin Keegan|
|Project Manager||Phil Watts|
|Quantity Surveyor||Dewi Leyshon|
|Mechanical Engineering||Mark Gapper|
|Electrical Engineering||Rob Townend|
|Structural Engineering||Steve George|
|Clerk of Works||Alan Roberts|
|Planning Supervisor||Phil Watts|
Located in approximately 540 hectares of unspoilt natural coastal parkland and in a Grade 1 landscape of outstanding historic interest, Kenfig obtained national recognition status as a nature reserve in 1989. The original building was constructed in the early 1990’s and its main purpose was to provide an administrative facility and information centre for those wishing to explore the surrounding area. An extension was added in 1996 to house the array of agricultural machinery used in the day-to-day up keep of the reserve.
It attracts approximately 7500 visitors each year including school and college parties for educational and scientific purposes. The centre also plays host to local groups attending seminars, conferences and exhibitions, and also draws many willing volunteers participating in the day-to-day management and monitoring of the site for biodiversity.
Of late, the centre has become a victim of its own success as due to its popularity and the ever increasing demands placed upon it as a semi-educational/maintenance facility, it was in urgent need of expansion and modernisation.
The site is located between the South Wales Coast to the West and the busy coastal road to the East linking the small holiday resort of Porthcawl to Cornelly on the very edge of the dunes. The distinctive silhouette of what was once Port Talbot Steel Works can be seen to the North, heralding a constant reminder of the areas industrial past. The existing single-storey building was simple and basic in form with painted rendered walls and imitation roof slates.
The brief identified an urgent need to increase the floor area from 205m² to 530m² providing a multi-functional building based upon the principals of sustainable development and energy efficiency.
Funding for the extension was approved by the Welsh European Funding Office in 2004 as part of the regional Objective 1 Phoenix Project, which included £2.7 million for the management of specially designated sites in Wales of which approximately £460,000 was dedicated to the Kenfig Reserve Centre extension. Included within the match funding for the centre was £165,000 from the Assembly of Wales Governments Local Regeneration fund and £16,000 from Bridgend County Borough Council, the Countryside Council for Wales and Kenfig Corporation Trust contribution by way of voluntary activity and kind, with further grant funding donated by Clear Skies Renewal Energy Grant bodies, making a total of £661,000.
The position of the new extension was determined by the desire to locate it on the coastal side of the existing building where the naturally pleasing views over the dunes would be appreciated the most, whilst simultaneously minimising the impact such a development may have had on the local community. The geometry of the new extension at the same time follows the same simple principals as that of the existing building footprint and running parallel to it on a North-South axis. Roof lines provide a continuous horizontal detail and continuity of form retaining existing ridge and fascia lines wherever possible. Naturally occurring materials appear strongly in the external and internal fabric with western red cedar cladding, Glulam beams, lime plasters, and organic paints to slate and marmoleum covered floors.
The main criteria influencing the choice of operational systems were the need to conserve resources and use materials with low embodied energy. This was achieved by the selection of a wide variety of systems: –
- The installation of a passive stack ventilation system to regulate and enhance the internal environment by the introduction of zoned thermostatically controlled high and low level louvres which respond to demand without consuming electricity and recognised by NHER as the most energy efficient method of ventilation available.
- Rainwater run-off is filtered and collected in an underground storage reservoir for supplying recycled water to sanitary appliances on demand, significantly reducing the consumption of mains water.
- An underground heat source pump system comprising of a series of 50m long pipes buried 2m underground referred to as slinkies, uses the earths relative constant temperature to provide natural heat by pumping a cold fluid out into the network of buried pipework gradually absorbing underground heat energy and returning it back into the building slightly warmer than when it left. It is then upgraded to a higher temperature thereby heating the building.
- Water for washing hands will be heated via a single solar panelling located on a south facing roof eliminating the need for fossil fuel alternatives.
- The introduction of an ‘extensive’ green roof assists in the integration of the extension into the environment minimising the impact the building may have when viewed from the coast and symbolising the “twitchers” hide in its modern interpretation whilst simultaneously contributing to the internal air quality and thermal performance of the building, minimising heat loss in Winter and solar gain in Summer and thus contributing to significant cost savings.
This enhanced educational facility has become an ideal venue for attracting naturalist societies; the building has become a unique visionary attraction for the purpose of educating young and old in environmental and natural history issues. Currently a wind turbine is being considered as an additional element of the project which, if installed, will make the building carbon neutral.
With the introduction of the affordable “green” technologies within this project, Bridgend County Borough Council (one of the first Authorities within Wales to sign up to the Welsh Climate Change declaration) has attempted to demonstrate what it is trying to achieve and signals a positive step forward in the integration of clean, safe energy and a pollution free response to the preservation of the natural environment.
Peter A. Ress, Chairmain of CLAW, presenting the CLAW 2007 Sustainability Award to Richard Fletcher of Bridgend County Borough Council.