Underfloor air conditioning gives flexible solution for office refurbishment

Published:  14 January, 2006

As part of the refurbishment of Tricorn House in the Fiveways area of Birmingham, cabled services and air conditioning using the Hiross Flexible Space System from AET are both accommodated beneath a raised floor.

By using the floor void of the refurbished Tricorn House in Birmingham to accommodate the air conditioning, the depth of the ceiling void has been reduced to only 80 mm.

This 12-storey office building has a lettable area of 14 000 m2. It has been transformed by property group Commercial Estates Group from an outdated 1970s building to modern, premium-rent office space using the Hiross Flexible Space System from AET, which also enables the working spaces to be easily reconfigured.

The Hiross system was specified by consulting engineers Andrew Wilkes Management and installed by Abbey Contractors of Derby.

The building was originally served by fan-coil units, but these had reached the end of their life, and their position restricted layout flexibility.

Upgrading cable-management systems by using a raised access floor of about 150 mm and installing air conditioning into a ceiling void typically requires a false ceiling of 600 mm or more deep. The Flexible Space System requires a raised floor only 190 mm high, eliminating the need for a ceiling void of any substantial depth, saving around 450 mm per floor compared with other air-conditioning solutions.

Each floor of Tricorn House is divided into a number of air-conditioning zones, depending on potential use and occupancy density. Each zone is supplied with cooled or warmed air by a conditioned-air module. The floor void is split into supply- and return-air plena using airtight baffles that can easily be moved. Supply air is drawn up into the space by fan-assisted terminal unit in the floor; they are plugged into an underfloor power source and connected by data cabling for intelligent control.

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