UFAC at 20 Soho Square on track to improve user wellbeing

AET Flexible Space has recently completed the supply and commissioning of underfloor air conditioning equipment at 20 Soho Square in London’s West End. The 6000 m2 neo-classical building has a stunning Portland stone façade; the most prominent in Soho Square and the iconic colonnade extends across the ground and first floors. AET has supplied a total of twenty five CAM-C (DX) downflow units along with associated Daikin heat pumps and around 360 TU4-EC fan terminals; with the underfloor system installed throughout most of the building’s seven floors.

The recent refurbishment was a speculative re-development, however the property achieved notoriety in Q1 2016 by being rated the fourth biggest property transaction by size when Palantir Technologies UK Ltd acquired the whole 64,606 ft2 on a ten year lease at an average rent of £74 per ft2. The incoming tenant has opted to finalise the fit out of the interior finish.

With underfloor systems, the whole plenum under the building’s raised access floor becomes the duct, or ventilation zone and each floor is divided into separate zones; ideal for multi-tenancy occupation or corporate division. Each of these zones is supplied with fully conditioned (chilled or warmed) air, which is fed into the plenum by the zonal downflow units (CAM), and then supplied into the workspace via Fan Terminal Units (Fantile). The Fantile units feature integrated controllers where users can personally adjust fan speed and temperature to suit their own comfort; which can have a positive impact on user wellbeing. Systems can be configured with underfloor or high level return and can easily integrate with passive or other ventilation systems.

Working with architect Buckley Gray Yeoman and consultant Hurley Palmer Flatt, the system specified at 20 Soho Square is a CAM-C Direct Expansion system. The under floor void is split into supply and return air plena using easily relocatable, airtight baffle and air travels back to the CAM for re-conditioning via the return plena. The Fantiles supplied are standard TU4 fan terminals with EC motors for enhanced energy efficiency, fitting neatly into the 270mm floor void. These can be easily re-positioned to suit individual tenant needs for heating or cooling, or when the interior layout may require change. Instead of a rooftop chiller providing chilled water, the building uses Daikin heat pumps to maximise space in the shallow roof space above the top floor. The system is installed throughout the seven storey building with the exception of the ground floor and the seventh floor extension.

This historical building dates back to the 1800’s; initially housing musical instrument makers, D’Almain and Company. Soup makers Cross and Blackwell were based there from 1858, expanding into the premises from no. 21 next door. In 1924-6, the original building was demolished and re-built by Cross and Blackwell as their headquarters building. In 2002, the owner developer increased the building’s gross floor area by 16% by adding a new top floor on the roof of the existing rear extension. At the same time, the office space was upgraded to full British Council for Offices (BCO) specification, including raised flooring and low energy displacement ventilation. The latest refurbishment of the building has squeezed a few more inches of usable space and further modernised the services; removing the majority of the displacement ventilation system and incorporating direct expansion underfloor air conditioning by AET Flexible Space.

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