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The Enterprise Centre

Location: Norwich, NR4
Completion Status: Complete 2015, Certified 2016 Occupancy: Occupied 11/2016
Architect: Architype Consultant: MEAD, BDP, Churchman Landscape Architects, Capita, 3PM
Contractor: Morgan Sindall Client: Adapt Low Carbon Group & University of East Anglia
Certification: May 2016 Certifier: MEAD
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2018 UK Passivhaus Awards WINNER large residential category sponsored by Munster JoineryWINNER in the non-domestic category of the 2018 UK Passivhaus Awards. This ambitious office demonstrates exemplary low-carbon architecture that achieves the client’s aspiration of Passivhaus, BREEAM Outstanding, and a 100-year performance lifecycle. Utilising local materials, it explores a contemporary vernacular & investigates the impacts of interior materials on health & wellbeing.

The building accommodates 100-300 people at any given time. Approximately half of the building contains a variety of specialised commercial workspaces for local and start-up organisations, with the other half used by the University for academia. The new university building aims to encourage new sustainable businesses from graduates who emerge from its academic research programme and those involved in activities within the wider Norwich Research Park.

In making The Enterprise Centre successful in its purpose to promote enterprise, connecting the building with community and commerce outside of its campus setting was a key focus of the brief. Local residents and businesses were involved from the outset in workshop consultations and apprentices were honored all the way through the process.

The Enterprise Centre

Top image ©Nick Caville, Bottom images ©Dennis Gilbert

Situated along the established tree-line of the historical Earlham Hall and Park, the masterplan considers the heritage and conservation of the site, as well as future phases of building on the campus.

The masterplan for the Enterprise Centre was created in conjunction with a wider strategic plan to redevelop the University’s eastern approach. A new route opens up the far side of the campus, significantly improving access for the public to Earlham Hall and Park, promoting links with the local community and commerce and reinstating this once sleepy corner of the estate.


Key Stats

  • TFA: 3425 m2
  • Gross External Area: 3797 m2
  • Form Factor: 2.92
  • Construction: Timber Frame
  • Heat Source: University CHP (combined heat and power) via the local heat network, which is fuelled from burning non-toxic  waste materials etc.
  • 100-300 occupants
  • 0% overheating
Enterprise Centre site plan 

The scheme adopts a plethora of innovative local bio-based materials in the building including flint, reed, straw, nettles, reclaimed oak, clay plaster and recycled rubber; and the building truly blends into its local and natural environment.

The foundation as a special low-carbon, 70% GGBS concrete-mix, using a unique mix of recycled sand, aggregate and cement replacement. This has been polished to produce a finish for the interior floor, saving on additional material for floor surface.

Many materials were sourced within 30 miles of site, including the Corsican Pine, which made up 70% of the stud-work in the timber frame. The local Thetford timber had previously only been used for fencing and pallets. This development opened an opportunity in the industry to using the resources available in our own back yard.

The Enterprise Centre

Energy Performance

Future climate data was applied to the building model to simulate the effect of climate change over the next 87 years. Embodied-carbon was modelled over 100 years, enabling us to optimise systems over the whole-life of the building. The orientation and form of the building provides significant levels of glare free daylight, high floor to ceiling heights, internal glazed partitions and central light shafts allows daylight to penetrate deep into the building.

A mixed mode ventilation approach with Variable Air Volume, (VAV) demand control provides high levels of fresh air ventilation. Night cooling strategies combine with the thermal mass of the concrete ground slab, and fermacell partitions, to ensure compliance with CIBSE summertime overheating spaces do not exceed 28°C for more than 1% of the occupied hours.

Users are advised on opening window and vent strategies by an indicator panel in each room, and natural ventilation openings are secure. The south facing rooflights have automatic opening vents to allow stack ventilation discharge, and attenuated cross vent details are concealed within the architectural bulkheads that also conceal the M&E services distribution.

The Enterprise Centre is ranked in the top 5% of all buildings independently surveyed by BSRIA for user satisfaction.

The building provides a wonderful environment for us entrepreneurs, as we are bathed in the most fantastic day-light, even on a dull day. Most importantly for me is the tangible connection I get from the centre’s natural material palette; in particular the robust timber frame, from which the building is constructed. The final but crucial part for me is the innovative story that exists in every space, and the lucid nature of the design, which allows all users to understand how the building is constructed.

Business Tenant at the Enterprise Centre


Lessons Learned

Feedback has generally been very positive about the performance of the building from both energy and comfort perspectives. The first year’s Primary Energy performance was better than that designed. Regular soft landings meetings managed minor issues, and with a small Soft Landings contingency, Architype have managed to rectify these issues in a timely manner with ‘no blame’ culture.

Throughout the project, Adapt co-ordinated the input into lessons learned and continuous improvement studies - gaining contribution from all stakeholders on the team. This has resulted in the “What do you want to learn” white paper being developed to summarise the lessons learned and best practices that can be taken forward form this project.

  • One of the lessons Architype employed from previous experience was the introduction of dedicated Front of House person, tasked to override some Building Energy Management System elements based on feedback. A process has been developed for temporary schedule changes when evening or weekend activities occur.
  • Looking at climate change modelling into the future meant that we made some changes to the design, e.g. depth and height of brise soleil. This is something that will be considered at the earlier stages on future projects.
  • A couple of smaller areas, including the board room, 1st floor social space, and I-lab, have proven to be slightly more prone to overheating, and need a little more active management in terms of ventilation etc. The reason being that these spaces are sometimes more occupied (with people and equipment) than envisaged as design stage.  A lesson learnt going forward would be to be more generous with the tolerances allowed around user numbers.


Unless otherwise stated, all images ©Architype

The Enterprise Centre: 2018 UK Passivhaus Awards Finalist Non-domestic category

Further Information


The Enterprise Centre

Previous PHT Story: Passivhaus projects shortlisted for RIBA regional awards – 29 March 2017

Previous PHT Story: Is this the UK's greenest workplace? – 16 May 2016

Previous PHT Story: UEA Enterprise Centre adorned in thatch - 26th February 2015

Previous PHT Story: Construction well underway at the UEA's Enterprise Centre - 31st October 2014

Its only Natural - RIBA Journal, 25 August 2015


2018 UK Passivhaus Awards WINNER non domestic category sponsored by AshdenBack to 2018 UK Passivhaus Awards shortlist




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