Cundall has delivered MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Power) and lighting design for Plexal, the 68,000-square foot innovation centre for technology entrepreneurs and enterprises located at Here East within Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Occupying the former broadcast and press centre for the 2012 Olympic Games, Plexal forms part of the London 2012 Olympic Games legacy and is designed to support young and established businesses to work collaboratively as a community in a mini-city. Mixed-use spaces lead from a central high street and the building comes complete with events spaces, an indoor park and an interactive living wall.
Cundall previously designed the fit-out of the International Broadcasting Centre which accommodated more than 10,000 broadcasters, photographers and journalists during the Games. Cundall was selected for the Plexal because of its knowledge of the site and for their data centre development expertise.
"This project has seen a clever reuse of an existing space and system, not only creating a major change in use and additional space, but at the same time retaining the majority of the existing systems for the future benefit of the occupants. The finished Plexal HEIC has great daylight penetration, views to the canal, lots of fresh air for occupants and a visually fantastic lighting scheme,“ said Steve Cook, Cundall building services partner.
The lighting design for Plexal needed to match the dynamic nature of the start-up companies that would occupy the space. The offices needed to incorporate modern technology and inspirational new ideas, creating a space where people want to spend time and innovate
"The lighting needed instant flexibility - a start-up, for instance, may require two people one month and 20 people the next as it grows. Flexibility in lighting design is about two key elements, the ability to move the luminaires to where they are needed and the ability to quickly and easily re-programme the lighting controls,” commented Ashleigh Dolan, lighting designer at Cundall Light4
Cundall Light4 opted for desk-mounted task lights as they not only focus light where it is needed, but can be moved with the desk as the company grows and reorganises. To support the flexibility of the lighting, integral Passive Infrared Sensors (PIRs) were also specified.
Cundall Light4 specified OSRAM DALIeco Swarm adapters for the lighting control. The Swarm adapters use radio frequency bi-directional communication between luminaires, sensors and switches. The controls are set up with just a screwdriver to select the zone and luminaire group and means that when a start-up company expands they simply need move a wall, desks and desk lamps with no expensive re-wiring or lighting control re-commissioning costs. Plexal is currently Osram's largest Swarm installation.
The adaption and modification of the existing open-plan space within the original broadcasting centre to form flexible and modular office accommodation, meeting rooms and conference facilities called on a number of smart engineering solutions from the Cundall Building Services team, as well as collaborative working.
"Everyone wanted different things with different priorities, so Cundall sketched up numerous options with clear graphic representations showing the advantages and disadvantages of each engineering solution. This allowed all parties to understand and buy into a common consensus," said Steve Cook.
A significant challenge was how to provide cooling to the sealed office boxes when the existing four-pipe fan coil unit system was at high level. This was overcome by modification to the chilled water system and the creation of underfloor cooling zones to provide cooling from downflow zone units. This allows the floor to function not only as a raised floor to distribute power and data, but to also supply cold fresh air to cool each individual office unit. The zone downflow units also meant ductwork, pipework, wall- and ceiling-mounted terminal units were not required in each office space thus maximizing floor area and clear heights.