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Fluid approach is a winner for Sports Centre

The National University of Singapore’s highly-acclaimed new Sports Centre owes its impressive green credentials to the winning work of the Web Earth team.

The practice’s detailed Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) studies helped to deliver a natural ventilated sports hall and swimming pool.

It is just one of the innovative design initiatives that helped the centre receive BCA’s Green Mark platinum award – the highest certification for sustainable buildings in Singapore.

A mixed mode ventilation system and façade was developed – designed to work efficiently both with the building’s natural ventilation and when air conditioning is used during sports competitions.

Another sustainable feature of the building, which was designed by Forum architects, is its extensive daylighting.

Richard Outhwaite, director of Web Earth explained: “The sports centre incorporates high levels of passive design so very little energy is needed for light and air conditioning, despite its size - most of it is actually consumed by the swimming pool pumps.

“As with all our projects we started with a blank page and explored every possible option to ensure that we arrived at the most efficient, sustainable solutions for this landmark university building.”

CFD analysis is a powerful tool used by Web Earth. It simulates how fluids such as air and water interact around buildings, within pipe or ducts or when subject to heat or movement.

It can be used throughout the design process, from the conceptual stage of a development to aid with masterplanning, or during detailed design of ACMV equipment optimization and placement.

Richard Outhwaite said: “Designing buildings for effective natural ventilation requires detailed planning from the conceptual stage.

“Modern buildings like the NUS Sports Centre often have complex forms and floor layouts and sit in a dense urban environment.

“Through early stage simulation we are able to work around these constraints to provide thermal comfort without the need for air conditioning.

“Natural ventilation will reduce both energy consumption and the building’s operational emissions. It is good for the pocket and the environment.

“Heat sources also create their own effect on how air moves within a space, from outdoor condenser units to people playing sports.

“Working with these thermal movements allows us to achieve effective air circulation and temperature distribution in complex conditions.

“Our CFD study work is vital to this and its results help and inform us throughout the project.

“Given the nature of this building and its use to host sporting events and competitions we came up with a mixed mode ventilation system that operates in the sports hall and the swimming pool.

“During sporting events air conditioning is required. The flexibility in design that we achieved has created a building that allows sufficient airflow to be naturally ventilated but is air tight when that air conditioning is switched on.

“Our detailed studies of the control mechanisms required to make this system work have provided the optimum solution for both comfort and energy savings.”

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