SPACE runs 18 artist studio buildings across seven London boroughs, providing affordable creative workspace for over 700 artists and professional development support for a further 700. It is committed to environmental, economic and social sustainability. SPACE’s Operations Director has overall responsibility for its environmental policy and each studio building has an environmental champion. Measures undertaken before its capital project included installing solar photovoltaic panels at Haymerle Road, a measure which has already generated about £18,000 of new revenue.Over the last few years, SPACE invested in a refurbishment of four of its buildings (two freeholds and two leaseholds) – Deborah House, The Triangle, Haymerle Road and Martello Street. The total project cost was £3.24 million. £1.26 million was provided through Arts Council England. The remaining £1.98 million came from a range of sources, including a private donation of £180,000 and loan funding from the ethical bank Triodos of £512,000.
The project aims were to:
- ensure the sustainability of artistic practice in London by improving working conditions for the artists, in particular enabling artists to use studios through the winter which was previously very challenging;
- increase the life of its buildings in the long-term and;
- reduce energy and running costs.
In the course of the project, SPACE found a significant overlap between environmental and artists' needs, bringing environmental sustainability into the heart of the project. In addition, as the works took place while the buildings were occupied good communication and planning in co-operation with the artists was essential.
SPACE was supported throughout the project by professional advisors and experienced contractors with whom it had an established working relationship, in particular: Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, an architectural practice with a proven environmental track record, and; Michael Pawlyn of Exploration Architecture, a proponent of learning from nature to transform architecture and society. Construction began in November 2013 and was completed in January 2015. The construction contractor had its own environmental policy and waste management plan.
One of the main aims of the redevelopment was to improve the buildings’ thermal performance and increase the buildings’ life span, which it did via insulation, notably re-roofing, cladding and double glazing and the use of durable materials.
At Deborah House the refurbishment included recladding, insulating external walls, double glazing and installing a green roof. A gas central heating system was installed at Deborah House and Haymerle Road, replacing the ad hoc use of inefficient electrical heaters. At The Triangle all windows were draught-proofed and the heating pipes lagged to reduce heating costs. Low wattage LED lights on PIRS (passive infrared sensors) were installed in communal areas and studio lights are low energy 46W T5 strip lights.
While it is early days yet, SPACE is confident that the refurbished workspaces will help to sustain its future and that of the artists it supports. It has already had positive informal feedback from the occupiers and will be doing a formal building user survey. They have seen significant reductions in U-values, a measure of thermal performance, and will be collecting and analysing meter readings on a quarterly basis, comparing before and after the refurbishment to establish energy performance improvements and examine emerging trends. Gas heating systems will be regularly reviewed to ensure that they are working at optimum levels. It will also review settings for each building following a settling in period. Given the anticipated life spans of the materials used it expects savings of about £50,000 a year in maintenance costs over the next twenty years which will help compensate for increased rental costs.