Clean air in an extremely economical manner
After last year’s spring half-term break, the 381 pupils of primary school De Zonnebloem in Sint-Amands (Belgium) finally were taught in their brand new building. Thanks to an ingenious architectural concept the limited space was used in an optimal manner. A sophisticated HVAC system guarantees perfect comfort and sufficient fresh air. In short: a school with all the assets to obtain great results!
The very dated 19th-century legacy buildings were an uninspiring, unappealing and uncomfortable environment in which to teach and to learn. This is why, within the framework of ‘Schools of Tomorrow’, it was decided to demolish the old buildings and to replace them with a beautiful state-of-the-art educational institution.
Architect Emile Smets of architecture firm a33: “We chose a design with a classroom wing, which has three floors, on the corner of the street. Thanks to the horizontal segmentation, the building remains on the scale of the environment. We achieved this by interspersing the pale coloured brickwork with bands in vertical dark brickwork and by, at the same time, vertically modulating the façade to the meandering street. On the corner, it folds back on itself, which is beneficial for the sense of space and for road safety. Besides it, there is a building with a multifunctional hall and refectory, which acts as a link to the nursery school sited behind it.”
A good indoor climate was very important for the building owner
The most progressive guidelines were followed regarding concept and design. For instance, all classrooms have large windows with a view of the Hekkestraat and the playground. On the side of the thoroughfare, there is a substantially widened corridor with spaces which function as overflow for the classrooms.
The outside space has been split into clean units with a differing character: open and covered playground, garden with a tree, basketball court, a waiting room for the parents …
“A beautiful building with a practical layout, however, is not enough”, explains Nathalie Duquesne, Airmaster area manager. “Even more important is an excellent learning comfort, firstly by supplying the buildings with sufficient clean air. In order to achieve this, the building owner chose our solution.”
Close up of the ventilation system
Actually, the classrooms are supplied with fresh air by means of fourteen Airmaster 800 units. These each offer an air volume of at most 725 m³/h with a noise level of less than 35 dBa.
Nathalie Duquesne: “The interesting thing is that this solution offers ‘ventilation on demand’. In other words, there is ventilation on the basis of the number of persons present. For this, each unit is equipped with a CO2 sensor which continuously measures the CO2 level in the room and which adapts the air volume on the basis of the detected values. Thanks to the programmable weekly clock, the Airmaster 800 only functions when this is really required, resulting in gigantic energy savings. Additional advantages: because there are no ducts there is no heat loss and the supply air temperature is higher. And last but not least: mufflers are not required. This is because the units have an interior insulation, and they are constructed with high-quality components of top brands.”
Simple to maintain
All units are integrated for two thirds into the false ceiling and installed against the outside wall. The air supply and extraction, therefore, happen through the facade. The regulation is done by means of a central control panel in the technical room.
Nathalie Duquesne: “Once all parameters have been set, the system works fully autonomously. Even better: because there are no ducts, as there are in a central air group, the maintenance is limited to replacing the filters. And even this the school does not need to monitor, as each unit is equipped with a filter alarm on pressure reduction. This will only be activated if the filters are effectively soiled and therefore need replacing.”
Source: Article by Els Jonckheere in Bouwen aan Vlaanderen, no. 2, 2018 page 212
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All units are integrated for two thirds in the false ceiling and installed against the outside wall.
All classrooms have large windows.