Armstrong Integrated Heating Solution Speeds London Apartment Block Refurb


When property management company PCP took over an old building which had been a hostel for nurses at the Royal Free Hospital, it had an ambitious scheme in mind.

Armstrong Integrated Heating Solution Speeds London Apartment Block Refurb

Ornan Court (Photo: Armstrong)

The 1907 building, Ornan Court, is in the desirable Belsize Park area of London, not far from Hampstead Heath. If it could be converted to provide a high standard of accommodation, it could be a very successful letting proposition. PCP decided to carry out a thorough refurbishment, creating 55 high specification studio flats.

PCP had some problems to solve first however. The nurses’ hostel had deteriorated over a period of time due to insufficient on-going maintenance. A particular concern was the old oil-fired boiler. To achieve the levels of comfort that would be necessary for these tenants, PCP needed to ensure flexible, reliable space heating, capable of meeting peaks of demand in the morning and evening. The old oil-fired boiler could never cope, and a new system was needed that could meet these demands with high energy efficiency.

Another challenge was the timescale for the refurbishment. By the time the planning permission had been approved, the credit crunch was beginning to bite. PCP could not afford to ‘miss the boat’.

PCP’s consultant, Anthony Judd of Anthony Judd Associates, specified Armstrong’s award-winning MBS integrated heating solution. This had a number of advantages for the Ornan Court project.

The MBS incorporates fully modulating condensing boilers, variable speed drive primary pumps, automatic fill/pressurisation unit and integrated controls, all pre-specified for optimum efficiency, and pre-assembled ready for rapid, final connection on site. Demand is met by three high-efficiency boilers, which are automatically controlled to deliver heating in the most efficient way. Instead of operating like a traditional system, with each boiler firing up once the previous one reaches 100% capacity, the MBS balances the demand across the system to achieve boiler efficiencies of around 94% - well in excess of the 80% required by Part L of the Building Regulations.

As the MBS is pre-assembled and pre-tested off-site, the work on the building services for Ornan Court could be carried out concurrently with the rest of the refurbishment work, for the shortest possible project time. In addition, the MBS is purpose-designed in connectable modules for ease and speed of installation, which brings particular benefits for refurbishment projects. Each module fits through a standard-size doorway and can be moved by one person without the need for special lifting equipment.

On the date required, the MBS modules were delivered to site and the contractors were able to install them in the new plant room, make final connections, and have the system operational within one day.

The MBS also has a smaller footprint than the old oil-fired boiler, so the new plant room could be much smaller than the previous one, enabling more of the outside space to be landscaped and made available for tenants.

Alex Beare, director of PCP said, “I was cynical about the timescales quoted for installation, but the contractors worked very efficiently and, by the end of the day, we were up and running. It made a huge difference to the project timescales and the comfortable environment created by the new heating system helped to secure tenants. All 55 apartments were let within a month of becoming available.

“Now that we have had tenants in place for some time, we’ve been able to see that the equipment delivers everything it promises to deliver in terms of reliability of supply at peak times, and we’ve been delighted by its levels of energy

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