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Wednesday23 July 2014

Leeds eco-apartments with Japanese twist

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Tao eco-apartments built using Insulating Concrete Formwork

• Budget of £230,000
• Built using ICF system that can produce U-Values as low as 0.11 W/m2K
• Incorporates timber brie soliel louvers and underfloor heating
• Uses locally sourced material when possible
• Japanese shower system save space and water
• Shortlisted for the RIBA White Rose Awards 2008

Tao eco-apartments sit between two older buildings

The Tao apartments in Leeds faced plenty of restrictions from the go, despite the developer’s efforts to make it a sustainable building.

The building houses six one-bedroom apartments using a budget of £230,000.

Architecture 2B has designed the apartments with an eye on Japanese design with developer Citu has used building methods from China.

The apartments have timber brie soliel louvers and underfloor heating. They boast wall to wall windows and white, glazed sliding walls. The building also has a safe area to lock away bikes.

The architect has opted for a Japanese shower system which was specifically designed for the Tao building. The baths are such that the bather crouches rather than lies down, making it both a space and water saving system.

Benefits of using ICF

Tao has been built using Beco Wallform’s Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) which provides cheap, fast and highly insulated structures. The system can produce U-Values as low as 0.11 W/m2K.

Insulating Concrete Formwork

BRE recognises this method of building as a Modern Method of Construction (MMC) system.

ICF has also allowed the architect to increase the amount of glazing in the building producing more access to natural daylight. The developer claims that this in turn reduces electricity use, although with low-energy light bulbs this saving is minimal.

The ICF Association says the system “is based on hollow lightweight block components that lock together without intermediate bedding materials, such as mortar, to provide a formwork system into which concrete is poured.

“The block is formed of sheets of insulation materials normally expanded polystyrene tied together with plastic or steel ties or an integral web of the same insulation.”

The concrete is then poured into the polystyrene frames. A pumpable RC 25 concrete with a 75-100 mm slump and a 10 mm aggregate is used.”

Microgeneration or not

The site sits between two older buildings, which limited the developer in terms of microgeneration for the building, even though this was not a preferred part of the scheme from the outset.

Architect Kate Scholes from Architecture 2B explains that these “gimmicks” often do not provide much of the power and that large savings can be gained from careful design and use of materials. She says microgeneration technology is “unable to offer sufficient output to be financially viable on this small scale project”.

The building, which sits on a brown field site is classed as a high-density development. Planning permission was granted despite the buildings incongruent Eastern design. Scholes says she was pleasantly surprised by the attitude of the planning officers.

“They shared our passion to generate a unique piece of architecture that responded to the gritty history of Mabgate,” she says. “It was refreshing to come across such pro-active planning officers and reassuring to discover that despite past and subsequent difficulties incurred within the current planning procedure.

The design of the Tao eco-apartments was inspired by Japanese architecture

“There remain one or two people within the department who are willing to support interesting schemes.”

All the contractors and materials for the building were locally sourced where possible to reduce the buildings carbon footprint.

The result is a stylish and modern addition to the rundown part of Leeds city centre, which, with a planned £850m regeneration budget, will become the city’s ‘cultural quarter’.

The building has been shortlisted for the RIBA White Rose Awards 2008 which recognises design excellence each year, specifically for the Yorkshire region.

It has already been awarded the Leeds Award for Architecture in Places and Spaces 2007, sponsored by The Leeds Chamber Property Forum and awarded by Leeds City Council.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I passed this building last week in Leeds. Stunning design, perfectly executed. Congratulations must go to the Architect for their vision, the construction team for their execution and the planners for the confidence they had in approving the design. Well done all round.

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  • It is good to see something new and not just plain contextural. You need a good client to get a good building. Well done one and all. I wonder how limited the architects managed to deliver this whole building and the planning negotiations for under 6K. as illustrated in the cost plan. www.owlarchitecture.co.uk

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