The National Assembly of Wales, or The Senedd as it is called in Welsh, was officially opened by The Queen last Wednesday. This spectacular building by the British architecture firm Richard Rogers Partnership was awarded the Building Research Establishment's (BRE) highest award for sustainable building construction back in January. The building's score is the ‘highest ever achieved by a BREEAM Assessed Development in Wales.’ RRP are well known for their pioneering approach towards sustainability within Architecture, but NAW is being seen as a particularly ground breaking example. The Queen said on Wednesday of this new landmark building that she hoped it would become as important a symbol as the English Houses of Parliament. TreeHugger hopes it becomes an important symbol for beautiful sustainable architecture, inspiring other architects to make boldly creative architectural statements in favour of the environment.The BRE award was given for ‘the low environmental impact that the building has achieved through careful use of renewable and low energy solutions to construct, heat and maintain the building.’ The concept of the building was a ‘transparent envelope, looking outwards to Cardiff Bay and beyond, making visible the inner workings of the Assembly and encouraging public participation in the democratic process.’ RRP believed that ‘as a public building, the Assembly has the responsibility of setting high environmental standards. Controlled natural light is used extensively throughout the design. In the Debating Chamber, a glazed lantern allows daylight to penetrate, while a roof cowl rotates to the direction of the wind to drive the natural ventilation. Forecast studies indicate that the building will run at a low 75 kWh/m2, well below the best practice target of 130 kWh/m2.’
Other green design factors according to the BBC include ‘using the ground as a heat source and the use of wood chips or pellets for the boiler. Rainwater is also collected via the steel columns supporting the roof to supply the toilets and to wash the windows. It is said that its renewable energy systems will reduce running costs by up to half.’ We particularly love that vast expanse of undaualting, beautifully warm wood, which contrasts so well with the incredible glass facade.
The Welsh Finance Minister, Sue Essex, was very happy to accept the BRE award: "I am delighted that this landmark project has been recognised as being at the cutting edge of sustainable design and construction. Sustainability is at the heart of Welsh Assembly Government policies. We are committed to setting an example to both the private and public sectors and demonstrating that buildings can be designed to achieve long term savings in running costs and emissions." Richard Rogers was also delighted that “The National Assembly building has been recognised as an exemplar of environmental design - we responded enthusiastically to the requirement for a building that maximises natural daylight and ventilation to reduce energy usage - winning BRE's highest award is very gratifying." Via: BBC News and Richard Rogers Partnership. Photos courtesy of Richard Rogers Partnership.