Pro­ject seeks to see how San An­ton Palace can be made more en­ergy ef­fi­cient

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

A pro­ject re­gard­ing the sus­tain­able re­gen­er­a­tion of San An­ton Palace has been on­go­ing for two years, Pro­ject Lead Ar­chi­tect Am­ber Wis­mayer said yes­ter­day, while launch­ing a work­shop to dis­cuss ideas with other ar­chi­tects as well as per­sons of in­ter­est.

In de­sign­ing en­ergy ef­fi­cient build­ings, at­ten­tion is grad­u­ally rev­ert­ing to the pas­sive de­sign prin­ci­ples de­vel­oped over cen­turies of ex­pe­ri­ence. These strate­gies in­clude nat­u­ral ven­ti­la­tion, so­lar ori­en­ta­tion, ther­mal mass and the use of tra­di­tional fea­tures, such as the log­gia.

Mal­tese ver­nac­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture of­ten ex­hibits these el­e­ments. The her­itage build­ing ty­pol­ogy, there­fore, of­fers huge po­ten­tial in re­duc­ing emis­sions and en­ergy de­mand at a na­tional level.

The event work­shop pre­sent­ing the pro­ject forms part of an ini­tia­tive which seeks to ad­dress how to max­imise en­ergy sav­ings in her­itage build­ings by us­ing San An­ton Palace as a case study.

Ar­chi­tect Wis­mayer ex­plained that stud­ies have shown that sig­nif­i­cant en­ergy sav­ings can be achieved with­out im­ping­ing on the cul­tural and ar­chi­tec­tural value of built her­itage. Not­with­stand­ing this, pro­pos­als de­signed to im­prove the en­ergy per­for­mance of such struc­tures must face the chal­lenge of har­mo­niously merg­ing sev­eral dif­fer­ent as­pects.

These in­clude: re­spect­ing the pro­tec­tion sta­tus of his­toric fea­tures; sat­is­fy­ing modern re­quire­ments gen­er­ated by the new use; re­tain­ing bal­anced en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions for arte­facts; and achiev­ing com­fort re­quire­ments for oc­cu­pants. The op­ti­mum retro­fit should re­sult in a ra­tio­nal bal­ance of these com­po­nents.

The work be­ing car­ried out by Ar­chi­tect Wis­mayer seeks to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of an ef­fec­tive strat­egy by iden­ti­fy­ing and as­sess­ing keys as­pects of the en­ergy ef­fi­cient retro­fit of her­itage build­ings.

While the Palace is act­ing as a case study, she said that the pro­ject aims to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of a strat­egy to im­prove en­ergy per­for­mance of her­itage build­ings, while con­serv­ing cul­tural and her­itage val­ues. “Re­duc­ing en­ergy costs in her­itage build­ings presents chal­lenges, as any in­ter­ven­tion must re­spect build­ing’s his­toric char­ac­ter­is­tics. This area, she said, is well pro­tected by Plan­ning Author­ity which of­fers blanked pro­tec­tion of such build­ings.

“It seeks to op­ti­mise the pas­sive de­sign fea­tures in­her­ent to this ty­pol­ogy, in order to max­imise en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. How­ever, as we all know, green de­sign is not nec­es­sar­ily com­fort­able de­sign, and this is par­tic­u­larly true of her­itage build­ings, where lifestyle and ex­pec­ta­tions of com­fort at the time when they were built dif­fers greatly from modern day no­tions”.

She stressed that one can­not ig­nore the hu­man fac­tor, thus mean­ing that oc­cu­pant be­hav­iour di­rectly im­pacts the build­ing’s en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

“The pro­ject seeks to achieve a bal­ance be­tween en­ergy con­ser­va­tion, her­itage value and oc­cu­pant com­fort. Oc­cu­pant be­hav­iour is not just linked to com­fort, but also to func­tion­al­ity”.

Given that the her­itage el­e­ment at the Palace is recog­nised im­me­di­ately, they chose to ex­plore the changes that the build­ing was sub­jected to, in terms of how and why in­ter­ven­tions were made over time.

A num­ber of sur­veys were con­ducted in ev­ery room, gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion on list­ing ma­te­rial, aper­tures, light­ing strate­gies etc. In­ter­views with oc­cu­pants and staff were also con­ducted, re­gard­ing the build­ing’s com­fort and func­tion­al­ity in terms of their per­spec­tives and ex­pec­ta­tions, while at­tempt­ing to iden­tify prob­lems with lay­out, fur­nish­ings, light­ing etc.

“Half of re­spon­dents said that they open and close win­dows and doors to al­low fresh air in. The other half don’t as they are un­able to for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. More­over, those who do still de­pend heav­ily on air con­di­tion­ing and ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing”.

She ex­plained that the pro­ject is on­go­ing, and they re­cently placed sen­sors in ev­ery room, mon­i­tor­ing CO2 lev­els, hu­mid­ity, tem­per­a­ture etc.

Ad­dress­ing those present, Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Jose Her­rera spoke pos­i­tively of the case study, say­ing that it could help im­prove en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and pro­mote cli­mate ac­tion.

“Given Malta’s abun­dance of her­itage build­ings, there is am­ple room for eco re­fur­bish­ment, yet it re­mains gen­er­ally un­ac­knowl­edged. This ini­tia­tive is wel­come as touches on an area which has been in­ad­e­quately ad­dressed”.

The work­shop is be­ing held un­der the aus­pices of the Pres­i­dent of Malta, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Pres­i­dent’s Foun­da­tion for the Well-Be­ing of So­ci­ety, the Univer­sity of Bath, UK, the Univer­sity of Wales Trin­ity Saint David, UK, and the Fac­ulty for the Built En­vi­ron­ment, Univer­sity of Malta.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.