Isle of Wight, UK
A 29,000sqm Blade Technology Centre for Vestas, situated on the River Medina on a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest
- Location Isle of Wight
- Type New build
- Area 29,000m² 312,150ft²
- Status Complete
- Client Vestas
- Services Architecture
The Isle of Wight is home to the Blade Technology Department of Vestas Wind Systems, producing wind turbines for the offshore wind industry. Their existing research facility was no longer able to accommodate the increased size of turbine blades and a new facility was required. Due to their size, the blades are shipped from the Isle of Wight to Southampton Docks for onward transit so this site, a former cement works with the potential for navigable access on the banks of the River Medina, was chosen. As part of the project, a 100m long quay was constructed to enable the landing of large, shipped components.
Our brief was to create a world class R+D facility encompassing testing and prototype production halls, and an office building for up to 225 R&D staff working on the development, testing and prototyping of new offshore wind turbines. The steel-framed Test and Prototyping Halls are both 180m long, to accommodate the 80m blades, with 56m clear spans.
With such a sensitive riverside setting, the challenge for the design was to find a way to reduce the apparent mass of the large building. This has been achieved by partly cutting the building into the natural slope of the ground, introducing plinth elements, clerestory glazing and timber clad service towers to break up the long elevations of the R+D halls.
The building is of global significance for Vestas with high numbers of international visitors; there was a desire for the building to be clearly legible as a ‘Vestas’ environment – one that visiting colleagues could identify and ‘feel at home’ with.
The naturally ventilated adjacent office building has views of the river and surrounding nature reserve. A glass atrium connects the halls and office, accessed via a first floor bridge, and contains reception facilities and canteen and is a social space for office and production staff to meet, enhancing the already strong ‘collective’ feel of the company.
The complex was designed for energy efficiency and was awarded a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. Sustainable design features include:
- Passive solar shading
- Exposed concrete soffits for increased thermal mass
- Ground source heat pumps
- Greywater harvesting
- Photovoltaic panels
- Naturally ventilated offices
- Landscaped attenuation ponds and swales form part of the surface water drainage features for the site, designed to manage run-off to the river and mitigate flood impacts.
- Successfully reused and reclaimed a brownfield site