AET Flexible Space has provided a flexible and high-performing underfloor air conditioning system at the One Benjamin development in central London
The growth in flexible working has seen the way organisations utilise workspace radically evolve. Enabled by technology and fuelled by the changing attitudes of businesses, coworking is a phenomenon that is leading to profound changes in the sector. The development of one of the biggest unicorns, multibillion-dollar company, WeWork, is testament to that.
In response to this growing trend, commercial real estate is seeing a seismic shift towards the provision of workspace as a service. The provision of ‘flex space’ continues to expand to meet the demand but how can buildings be truly flexible if the facilities installed within them aren’t?
Air conditioning being a case in point. Once an overhead ceiling air conditioning system is installed, it is not possible to easily reposition the fans ducts and chilled beams or it is very time consuming, disruptive and expensive to do. Therefore, if an office space is reworked this may mean that desks are now directly underneath the fans or diffusers providing discomfort to those below.
British company AET Flexible Space is a pioneer of underfloor air conditioning (UfAC) solutions that offer complete flexibility. Modular in their design, equipment is installed at floor level, making it easy to install, maintain and rearrange. The AET Fantiles can be easily relocated, offering huge savings in both time and equipment when reconfiguring office space and creating far higher user comfort and satisfaction.
Implementing AET’s underfloor air conditioning
One Benjamin is a new mixed-use address in Farringdon. Designed by world-renowned architects Alford Hall Monaghan Morris, and situated directly opposite the new Farringdon station, the building provides 43,562 sq ft of office, retail and residential space.
The original air conditioning design specified four downflow units per floor: two supplying the rear zone of the building and two for the front zone. Each zone was split into two further zones: one supplying cool air towards the perimeter of the building (where it is needed more to combat solar gain), and the other providing warmer air to the central areas of the office space, where there is less heat generated by the sun.
AET Flexible Space had built up a strong working relationship with the main contractor, Knight Harwood, while working on a previous project at 20 Soho Square. Having seen the advantages of the AET system on that project, Knight Harwood saw the opportunity at One Benjamin to redesign the original Stage 3 hot/cold aisle design and to implement AET’s underfloor air conditioning solution for the three floors of office space. Knight Harwood felt that AET’s highly flexible system would be more suited to cope with the variations in temperature across the building caused by increased/decreased sunlight.
AET’s underfloor air conditioning systems make use of the space beneath a raised access floor to create the air ventilation path, eliminating the need for ceiling-based services and associated duct and pipework. At One Benjamin, each of the three floors was divided into zones of up to 300m2 depending on the potential use and occupancy density of the area. Each zone is then supplied with chilled or warmed air by a zonal air handling unit or CAM (Conditioned Air Module) and the conditioned air is then delivered into the space using a number of recessed fan terminals (Fantile™).
AET’s most flexible air conditioning – CAM-V
One Benjamin selected AET’s most flexible system, the CAM-V, which makes use of the raised floor void as a plenum for the distribution of supply air, while receiving return air back to the CAM unit at ceiling or high level. With a CAM-V system, there is a considerable amount of flexibility in where the fantiles can be placed, allowing for easy reconfiguration depending on the particular needs or layout of an office. For maximum flexibility, each fantile is supplied with onboard Fanspeed and Set Point adjustment, but in meeting rooms and cellular space AET offers Flextouch™ wall-mounted controllers, which allow users not only to adjust the fan speed and temperature, but also CO2 and humidity monitoring and control.
Headroom height was a key consideration during the design and build of One Benjamin, and by using the AET underfloor air conditioning system, the contractors were able to eliminate much of the ceiling-based services and ductwork. The offices were developed to provide a sustainable workplace, and have been awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating. The reduced amount of building materials needed for an AET underfloor system, as well as its long-term flexibility, make it an excellent choice for sustainable building projects.
Overall, AET was able to provide One Benjamin with a high-performing and flexible air conditioning system that was more suited to its needs than the originally proposed downflow system. The building was completed in July 2019 for the Girdlers Worshipful Company and is now beginning to rent its office space and residential units.
Growing demand for more agile workspaces
With demand continuing to increase, workplace occupiers continue to reassess the way they use office space and this demand looks set to expand outside of the primary global city-based markets due to the fact both commercial real estate rates and the cost of living escalates. Forbes announced that the fastest growth markets in the US in 2018 were Las Vegas, Orlando and Austin, while in Europe, Manchester and Toulouse topped the UK and French markets.
Glan Blake Thomas, CEO at AET, said: “Corporate organisations are seeking more agile workspaces and our flexible solutions are absolutely ideal to support this trend. Our bespoke plug and play fantiles can be easily repositioned to sort any manner of office layout. In addition, our solutions are sustainable by design, which is also an important factor to many modern businesses. AET solutions use little or no ductwork and, therefore, individual zones operate at very low-pressure encouraging energy efficiency. AET’s UfAC systems offer up to 30% savings in energy costs and around 29% reduction in C02 emissions when compared to ceiling systems.”
Glan Blake Thomas
AET Flexible Space
Tel: +44 (0)1342 310400
Please note: this is a commercial profile.