Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Grangemouth Renewable Energy Plant in Dundee, UK by Gordon Murray Architects
April 10th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
The design draws inspiration from the uses adjacent to the proposed site, container storage yards, in order to reflect the industrial character of the surrounding area and create a clear visual connection with Scotland’s largest container terminal. The design would function at long range as a distinct element within the setting of the Firth of Forth and within the context of the Helix park project. At the medium range, careful manipulation of the contrast between solid, void and transparency can help define the massing of the Biomass Renewable Energy Plant in an appropriate manner, while at close range, the design of the surface texture should be considered carefully to create an architectural response which is robust and appropriate for the setting.
The initial move of the design approach is to visualise the various elements which make up the Biomass Renewable Energy Plant as piles of building blocks, using the standard cargo container dimension as a module, reflecting the precisely arranged stacks of containers found in the cargo terminal to the east. The height of these stacks containing the storage and screening areas generally relate to the scale of the surrounding port buildings, but increase in height towards the north where the turbine hall and boiler house are located. In order to create an identifiable element on the skyline, the upper levels of the boiler house are realised as a translucent, sculptural object, in contrast to the more solid elements below. The storage structures are separated from the ground by the creation of a translucent ground level, increasing the horizontal emphasis.
The skin of the indicative design for the Biomass Renewable Energy Plant is conceived as a series of profiled metal sheet panels, giving the impression of a series of stacked containers. These stacks are then pulled, pushed and blocks removed, with the spaces in between being filled with polycarbonate panels. This allows light into the Biomass Renewable Energy Plant, and also helps to break down the mass of the large scale elements. The colour of the profiled metal panels drawn from the range of colours found in the adjacent container yard, with large scale industrial graphics and text potentially being used to convey information about the Biomass Renewable Energy Plant.
There is widespread recognition of the need to develop Renewable Energy technologies at both national and international level in order to address the impact of climate change and ensure a stable domestic energy supply. The EU Renewable Energy Directive and the UK Climate Change Act commit us to achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and reductions on CO2 emissions of at least 26% by 2020 from 1990 baseline levels.
At the same time there is increased awareness and concern over the physical realities of the technologies and facilities necessary to achieve these targets. New proposals come under ever increasing scrutiny to ensure their impact on the environment and visual setting is fully considered, aiming to deliver a high standard of design for the benefit of local communities and to mitigate the effect of new plant on sensitive visual receptors.
Good design can play an important role in providing a bridge between these aspects. It can enhance visual appearance, improve site layout, and be a powerful means of communication between all parties engaged in the consenting process.
Gordon Murray Architects were commissioned by Forth Energy, a joint venture between Forth Ports Plc and SSE (Scottish Southern Energy) to develop conceptual design proposals for a series of new Biomass Renewable Energy Plants at their ports of Dundee, Grangemouth, Rosyth and Leith in support of Section 36 Applications. The projects have an estimated combined construction value of over £1 billion.
It is hoped the Renewable Energy Plants will be operational by 2015.
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