Adnams Distribution Centre

The site is a former gravel pit and grazing land near Southwold which has been landscaped to minimise the visual intrusion of the development, a 5,000sqm warehouse and a customer service centre for brewer Adnams – a building that had Britain’s largest green roof at time of completion

Project Details

  • Location UK
  • Type New build
  • Area 5,000m²
  • Sector Industrial
  • Client Adnams Brewery
  • Services Architecture

Collective Team

In line with Adnams’ corporate ethos of seeking to be a leader in environmental responsibility we developed a strict brief with them to minimise environmental impact, while creating a building to meet the needs of the Adnams business for years to come.

The site is 85 acres of former gravel workings and grassland in close proximity to Adnams’ own brewery in the town of Southwold. The building is 7m below normal ground level which allows much of the development to be shielded from view, provides an element of natural thermal stability and minimises the local impact of noise and nocturnal light.

“Built to sustain a cool, beer-friendly environment”

Warehouse interior with 42m glulam beams providing column free space, and clerestory windows for light and ventilation

Externally, the 4,200sqm green roof softens the mass of the building into the landscape and 42m timber glulam beams create a 35m clear span inside the warehouse.

The sedum roof provides active insulation, being warm in winter and cool in summer, and helps to filter out pollutants from the air, and enhances the natural habitat for flora and fauna.

Detail section

The unique combination of environmentally sensitive construction elements also includes:

  • earth covered roof, creating a meadow of grass and wildflowers acting as a thermal buffer
  • timber glulam roof support beams provide a column-free interior to the warehouse
  • solar collectors to heat the site’s water
  • rainwater harvesting
  • foul water waste system includes septic tank and reed beds, enabling water to be cleaned and delivered via swales to existing ponds for use in lavatories, for vehicle washing and for irrigating the roof in summer
  • clerestory glazing and rooflights provides natural light to the interior
  • glazing to the office space at first floor level on the southern elevation is provided with ‘sails’ to provide solar protection.
Site plan: the building is nested into the landscape minimising its impact on its surroundings
Ground plan showing column free warehouse space
Initial concept for sheltering green roof
Concept sketch
Initial concept sketch
Construction of hemp walls and sedum roof

Lime, locally-sourced hemp, and chalk blocks have been used for all walls, with a lime render finish which takes less energy to manufacture than conventional concrete blocks. The system was developed in connection with Lime Technology, this being their first commercial scale application in the UK.

The building has the biggest sedum roof in Britain, at 0.6 hectares and has outstanding thermal performance.

Offices at first floor with views out over the surrounding countryside
Overhanging beams and Adnams 'sails' provide solar shading to the offices at first floor
Loading bay sheltered by overhanging glulam beams
Detail of glulam beams overhanging the building and providing solar shading
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