Tradition meets innovation as Enterprise Centre unveils its thatched roof
- Credit: Bill Smith - Archant
It is an ancient technique associated with country cottages and the quintessential image of the rural idyll.
But thatched roofing has now been used to boost the environmental credentials of a modern business hub in its quest to become the UK's greenest commercial building.
The Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia has marked its highest construction point by pinning bundles of locally sourced reeds above its modern solar panels. The process has underscored a significant milestone for the £11.6m building, which will become home to students, start-up companies and academics looking to drive innovation and create new supply chains for business.
Yesterday, leaders behind the scheme said 35 firms had already expressed an interest in relocating to site once it is complete in May next year.
Dr John French, project director and chief executive of the Adapt Low Carbon Group, added: 'It's fantastic to have reached this milestone in developing UK's greenest commercial building. Working from the foundations up, the Enterprise Centre is redefining low carbon sustainable construction in every aspect of the development.
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'The building celebrates the area's great natural landscapes of rolling fields and trees, and it embraces its natural resources using Corsican timber from Thetford Forrest and reed from Norfolk and Suffolk creating 'East Anglia in building'.'
Funded by a mixture of European and government funding, the 4,000sqm building will include teaching rooms, a 300-seat lecture theatre, exhibition space, and a business 'hatchery' where low-carbon firms can
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The site is aiming for the highest sustainability standards by retaining heat, using renewable materials and having one of the lowest carbon footprints.
Ben Humphries, associate director at Architype, the architects for the project, said: 'The aim from the outset was to design a unique, striking and welcoming Enterprise Centre, which acts as a demonstration of low carbon innovation and renewable materials, dynamically announces the entrance to the university and also elegantly interfaces with the historic Earlham Park context.'
Investment in the new building is part of wider investment in Norwich Research Park to create and support new companies and jobs based on world-leading bioscience.
Gavin Napper, area director at Morgan Sindall, said: 'The Enterprise Centre is an inspiring project that seamlessly marries cutting-edge techniques with traditional sustainable methods. The project team is dedicated to delivering an exemplar building that will serve as a catalyst for excellence in the region.
'Innovation has been at the core of the project and this will ensure that the methods used in the construction of the Enterprise Centre will continue to be used industry-wide, as the project strives to leave a lasting legacy, in the region and beyond.'
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