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Class performance for Waterloo at the newly refurbished Warwick Arts Centre

Coventry’s redeveloped Warwick Arts Centre has opened its doors as one of the region’s key venues for the city’s tenure as the 2021 UK City of Culture, with low noise level air distribution products supplied by Waterloo.

Located on the University of Warwick campus, Warwick Arts Centre has been transformed into an environmentally sustainable multi-artform venue offering three state-of-the-art cinema screens, new gallery, spacious foyer, café and bar, alongside the existing large theatre, and other performance spaces. And coinciding with the long-awaited season when audiences were able to get back inside to enjoy the arts after months of lockdown, the October opening took on a special significance.

With a proven track record of providing bespoke air distribution systems for spaces used for performance and exhibitions, this exciting project was the perfect challenge for Waterloo’s expert sales and technical teams.

The Warwick 20:20 Project, which began in 2019, has transformed the original 1974 building into a vibrant showcase for the very best in contemporary art, events and entertainment that will appeal to the widest possible audience. Following the phase one refurbishment of the existing theatres, entrance area and restaurant, phase two began in autumn 2019 with the creation of a brand new building to house the new cinemas, large accessible ground floor gallery, new café and a welcoming, spacious foyer.

When specifying air terminal devices for performance spaces, optimum air quality is not the only consideration. For moments when the audience should be able to hear a pin drop, low noise generation is crucial. Mechanical & electrical services subcontractor Dodd Group, working in association with engineering consultants Hoare Lea and supported by the Waterloo team, selected Waterloo’s Thermally Actuated Swirl Diffusers (SDACH) for the three auditoria to ensure the lowest possible noise levels. By using a temperature controlled actuator, this diffuser achieves very good control levels in both heating and cooling modes to provide ideal comfort at all times of year.

In contrast, the exhibition galleries presented a different requirement. To ensure that the regularly changing exhibits would not be disturbed by air flow, Waterloo’s adjustable Hi-Flo Jet Diffusers (RWH) were chosen because of their ability to provide long throws and 360° rotation.

Dodd Group’s mechanical engineer James McGugan said: “It was crucial that the air terminal devices chosen for Warwick Arts Centre delivered more than just optimum indoor air quality. Keeping noise levels to an absolute minimum for a performance venue was also top of our list when choosing who to work with on this project. Waterloo was able to provide exactly what was needed to achieve the required standards and the responsiveness of the team ensured on-time delivery.”

The requirement for low noise levels also applied to the exterior of the building. Waterloo’s Large Format Fixed Blade External Louvres (WG-EF) were selected due to their 75mm pitch which ensures low noise and pressure drop characteristics whilst offering the necessary protection against water ingress. A polyester powder coating provides long term protection against the elements and a fully galvanized bird screen prevents unwanted inhabitants from nesting in the ventilation system.

Air Valves were used in the toilets and for the areas immediately outside the toilets Waterloo specified the adaptable Louvre Faced Diffuser (DF41) which is ideal for integration with a variety of ceiling types whilst maintaining consistency in appearance. The DF41 is available with five frame styles and 14 different air pattern control core designs for vertical and horizontal diffusion.

8 December 2021

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