Canadian Consulting Engineer

Return of the Chimney

BUILDINGSA traditional building feature associated with smoke and pollution is reappearing with a vengeance in Britain. The massive cluster of stacks added to the Contact Theatre at Manchester Univers...

December 1, 1999   Canadian Consulting Engineer

BUILDINGS

A traditional building feature associated with smoke and pollution is reappearing with a vengeance in Britain. The massive cluster of stacks added to the Contact Theatre at Manchester University this year (photo right) is one of the most dramatic examples, but there are several others on buildings nearing completion, including on a new Parliament building at Westminster in London.

This time round the chimney is working to create clean rather than dirty air, and will help cool rather than heat the buildings. The revived feature is being put into service for natural ventilation in “green” buildings. At the Contact Theatre, for example, air is drawn in via low vents around the building and through the curtain facade, then distributed through a plenum below raked seating in the auditorium, and exhausted upwards through the chimneys. The H-block design of the stack helps stop the rain coming in and manages air flows.

An article by Hugh Pearlman in the Sunday Times Magazine said the reappearance of the chimney is by architects who believe ecological buildings should not only be different but also look radically different. The chimneys at the Contact Theatre dominate the building, rising 40 metres and doubling the overall height. Mechanical and electrical consultant was Max Fordham & Partners, for Short and Associates architects.


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