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Sustainable Development: Jubilee Wharf, UK
Hana Loftus, 17 Jan 07
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For too long now, BedZED has been the quoted example of zero-carbon sustainable development in the UK - and its many teething problems and some more serious faults have thus undermined the credibility of the zero-carbon movement. However, the brains behind it, Bill Dunster, have been turning out many more schemes since that 2002 breakthrough, including a tiny development in East London (the somewhat less pretty BowZED). social housing units in the Midlands and the first in a promising series of joint projects with the much larger architecture firm PRP.

Some of these projects are too small to make a real difference and do, to be frank, live up to the stereotype of 'green' building as worthy but ugly: I await with interest the realisation of some of the much more ambitious schemes that Dunster's firm Zedfactory has in progress. But one recently completed project does show a way forward that is transferable and of a scale that makes sense.

Jubilee Wharf in the town of Penryn, Cornwall, is a mixed-use development of the sort that you could imagine every mid-sized town, or suburb, would need. Combining six maisonettes for local people with 12 workshops for small local businesses, a nursery, community hall and cafe, it forms two low-rise blocks that enclose a public space, enlivened by the cafe, that is already housing a craft fair and farmers market. A bike shop has opened in one of the workshop units.

The aesthetic of the development responds well to its seaside context, and it is of course zero-carbon, powered by four slender wind turbines and a biomass boiler. It has been developed by a local property developer, not one of the national behemoths, who has worked with the local council to cleverly lever in funding from the EU and central government.

Jubilee Wharf is straightforward yet imaginative, meeting a real need in peripheral communities for not only housing, but space for start-up businesses that will keep bright young people from migrating city-wards, social space that celebrates the community and an architectural identity that reinforces local character without pandering to pastiche. A precedent that must provide encouragement for many other communities here and abroad.

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So I see they've broken the well known rule of thumb not to place turbines within 5 diameters of the next!!

Another Greenwash success

Posted by: Chris McArthur on 18 Jan 07

Chris, I'm not an engineer and don't know the exact specification of those turbines - and I can't tell what the spacing is from the photos. But I'm not sure it is fair to dismiss this as 'greenwash' when the development is up and functioning as a zero-carbon project, producing no net carbon, which it provably is. So those turbines, and the experienced designers who specified them, must be doing something right.

Posted by: Hana Loftus on 18 Jan 07

Mr McArthur....

Greenwash???!! Before jumping in feetfirst with comments like this you should probably do your research.

Jubilee Wharf has 300mm of rockwool insulation, high levels of thermal mass and south facing orientation and well built construction to a high level of airtightness. This, as well as the fitting of solar thermal tubes and a wood pellet boiler, achieves zero carbon heating and hot water all year round. Most or all of the electricity needs (depending on demand) will be met by the wind turbines which do not obstruct each other in relation to the prevailing wind. I've been there.
Check the website and do your homework....:

Posted by: Taus on 22 Jan 07



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