5th Studio co-founder Oliver Smith shares his radical approach to upgrading listed buildings. In this episode of the Architects Journal Climate Champions launches a mini-series on how to make heritage buildings more climate-ready.
Oliver Smith discusses the practice’s radical retrofit of New Court at Trinity College, Cambridge. Completed in 2016, New Court remains a trailblazing project, because it pioneered an ambitious sustainability agenda in a Grade I-listed building using a nuanced approach that balanced heritage concerns with upgrading thermal and energy performance and internal comfort. The conservation methodology developed at New Court was subsequently adopted by Cambridge City Council.
Oliver explains how to intervene in heritage buildings in a way that respects their character and also meets 21st-century expectations for comfort, amenity and sustainability. He challenges accepted wisdom on cold bridges at cornices and party walls, promoting the concept of ‘cool’ bridges. He advocates making a building ‘as good as it can be’ without aiming for a particular environmental certification, which can result in more insulation (and hence more cost) than necessary.
In this episode, Oliver explains how much to model and how much to monitor on a given project and why this is best done over the winter. He sees the monitoring at New Court as proof of concept that subsequent buildings can emulate.
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