MidKent College Workshop
On Monday 21st March 2022, WSD's Electrical Director and Mechanical Engineer visited the MidKent College, Maidstone campus to run a workshop with the students currently studying for their Level 3 Construction & Built Environment.
The students project brief is to design a natural history visitor centre and they have been tasked with all aspects of the design, from the shape of the building and how its sits in its location, materials used in its construction, services within, renewable technologies and zero carbon measures. The college took some lovely photos of the day which you can see here: https://www.linkedin.com/school/midkent-college/posts/?feedView=all
Group 1 design was loosely based around the triangular shape of Bluewater Shopping Centre and they located their building in Dover.
We were particularly impressed with their choice of location and shape allowing them to utilise the natural wind element of the area to help cool down their building if solar gains were high, through their many windows. We explained to them that whilst mechanically controlled air conditioning might still be a requirement, adding sensors to their “observatory” windows on the three corners could allow for certain windows to open depending on the wind direction on any given day. When we asked the team about how they plan on using more sustainable materials, they offered the idea to use bamboo where possible in the nature trail that they were planning on designing next to their building, where they were also going to plant additional trees and various plants to help their sustainability and carbon offset requirements.
Group 2 had a very different idea in that they were planning on locating more locally to Medway, on the Peninsula, and they planned to repurpose 50+ shipping containers to be placed on solid concrete foundations.
When we questioned them as to whether the containers would become too hot in summer months and too cold in winter months, the students told us they had sourced materials and insulation which not only protect the inside from the potential of over/underheating but the insulation could also collect the condensation produced on the container, in a gulley which they would then be filtered for re-use as part of their sustainability approach. One of the group had an alternative idea of sloping a roof to the centre of the “building” where they could then collect and harvest the rainwater before filtering for re-use where possible.
When asked about renewables for their projects, both groups envisioned PV panels with large battery storage for later use, to help use less electricity from the grid. They were also both open to the use of smaller wind turbines. We discussed the pros and cons of these systems which both teams took onboard for their designs.
Attending the campus was a fantastic opportunity for WSD to see into the minds of the next generation of engineers, architects and sustainability consultants and we look forward not only to seeing the final results of these students' designs, but to continuing our close work with MidKent College in helping to shape the curriculum of the building services sector to provide students with the best possible start in their careers.