University of Aberdeen unveils Passivhaus nursery on campus

Rocking Horse NurseryA £2 million nursery for pre-school children of students and staff at the University of Aberdeen has become the first fully certified Passivhaus building in Scotland to also attain a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

Designed by BMJ Architects and built by Burns Construction, the new Rocking Horse Nursery provides a high level of comfort for users, while consuming very little energy for heating or cooling.

The nursery will cater for 78 children, embodying many energy saving features in its design such as the use of specialist tape used on aircraft wings to achieve air-tightness. The building will be surrounded by landscaping, and excellent opportunities for outdoor activity, including a walled garden for the children to explore and enjoy.

Other sustainability features include harnessing the heat provided by solar gain and heat radiated from occupants and equipment to reduce energy use with grey-water harvesting for toilet flushing, solar panels and LED lighting also employed.

Siobhan Davitt, project architect from BMJ Architects expressed the enthusiasm of the architects for this challenging project: “Not only have we had the opportunity to work collaboratively with a great client but we have been given scope to integrate a sustainable building strategy we feel passionate about into a building that shares a similar ambitious ethos – that of encouraging children through play to explore their nursery and its environs, as autonomous beings.”

Douglas Farmer, director of Burns Construction (Aberdeen) Ltd praised the team effort: “Burns Construction were delighted to be entrusted by the University to deliver this project to the very high standards expected in order to achieve Passivhaus accreditation. Team work was the order of the day as the learning curve for all parties involved was quite steep. It was obvious from the outset that the University had managed to select a team that could work together and our thanks go to all involved.

“It would be unfair to single out any one individual but special thanks must go to Graham Stuart and Siobhan Davitt of BMJ and Gareth Still of Talbots. Steve Young and Keith McPhee, Burns Snr Site Manager and Snr QS signed up for the principle of Passivhaus build from day one. Whilst they, and the rest of the team, had not encountered this style/method of build they soon familiarised themselves with the key elements required and as a result managed to achieve and indeed better the scoring criteria at the various build stages from air test to heat loss.”

(Below: Early designs for the project.)

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