The Amelia Scott Cultural Centre, in Tunbridge Wells, is a great example of why early engineering engagement can reap major benefits.
The project involved creating a contemporary building for local authority services, including new build museum, archive and gallery spaces and our appointment was to lead the building services and environmental design.
The main challenge was seamlessly integrating the new-build elements, which required stringent environmental controls, with a Victorian and a 1940s listed building.
By taking an active role from the very earliest stages through to completion, we helped manage a complex range of potentially conflicting requirements. For example, resolving the conflict between the need to minimise overheating and ensure good ventilation with the need to avoid security risks from openable windows.
We also faced the challenge of integrating hidden services to avoid compromising the aesthetics and heritage.
While sensitively managing cost and stakeholder aspirations, we also needed to demonstrate comprehensive technical knowledge of the Government Indemnity Scheme’s requirements for displaying artwork and exhibits. Key to this was precise humidity and temperature controls for the gallery and archive, along with tight security and fire prevention regulations.
The project was funded by the Arts Council, Heritage Lottery and Local Authority, and being involved from day one meant we were able to advise on all applications and help secure funding.
Our early involvement allowed us to shape the brief and advise the architects as they evolved their initial concepts. We provided optioneering, financial analysis and extensive benchmarking, ultimately developing a robust energy strategy using 3D dynamic thermal modelling. This culminated in a very detailed RIBA Stage 1 & 2 reports which helped to the project get off to a strong start.
Our support continues on the ground too, regularly visiting the site to ensure contractors clearly understand the demanding technical requirements.
We’re proud to be part of a project that rejuvenates a community, bringing adult education, a modern library, museum and art gallery together as a lively hub for Tunbridge Wells.