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Environmental Resource Centre

credit: Design Research Unit wales

The Environmental Resource Centre is located adjacent to the former steelworks pumphouse and filtration tanks, a haven for wildlife since the closure of the steelworks. The classroom is located to respond to this geometry, creating a simple rectilinear form with two key axes: an access deck to exploratory boardwalks, separating the classroom and toilet zones; and separating a servant storage wall from the served classroom which opens out to views across the filtration tanks and valley beyond.

A layered facade creates a play of colour and depth with red, yellow and black steel panels of wildlife super-graphics. These are concealed and revealed by charred vertical timber cladding and galvanised steel grating. Internally, prefabricated birch plywood units create a storage wall along the rear of the classroom and WC bock.

The Ty Unnos Sitka spruce construction system used in the building was developed when we were at DRU-w as a collaborative research project to use homegrown Spruce for construction. The building uses predominantly local materials and achieves a 60% reduction in energy use over Building Regulations.

Client : Blaenau Gwent CBC
Team: Steve Coombs & Matthew Jones (DRU-w); G Adams Construction (main contractor); Halcrow (M&E); Burroughs (Structural engineers); Cowley Timberwork (Joinery); Coed Cymru (Timber supply and advice).
Value : £330,000
Completion: 2010
Awards: Shortlisted for Wood Awards 2010; National Eisteddfod Plaque of Merit 2011