The New Visitor Centre

Space Airconditioning plc, the UK Daikin Distributor, is proud to have been involved with the new visitor centre at the famous Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT), working in conjunction with the Channel Islands Building Services and Sustainability Engineers - Jersey Energy.

The project we describe here would not be classified as large by any means or one that represents an extensive application of Daikin technologies, but it is a project that we strongly feel deserves a place in our case study library for its highly imaginative and comprehensive commitment to the use of natural and sustainable materials and renewable technologies including, of course, Air Source Heat Pumps, which Space Air was specified to supply.

Some key aspects of this project include:

- High efficiency Daikin Air Source air to air Heat Pumps provide low energy heating to all public areas via a central Air Handling Unit with cross flow heat exchangers.

- Solar Thermal panels provide the DHW services.

- All chairs are manufactured from recycled Playstations.

- Table tops are manufactured from recycled paper and cashew nut oil. 

- Counters are manufactured from recycled ceramic and glass.

- The internal wall cladding is sustainable bamboo.

- The electric light fittings within the retail space are all reclaimed.

- Sun pipes and wind-catchers provided free lighting and ventilation.

- Cedar used for roof tiles and wall cladding is from FSC rated source.

- Borehole water is used for flushing of toilets.

- LCD screens provide visitors with information about the sustainable features incorporated in the building. 


Space Airconditioning plc was uniquely specified to supply renewable heat technology in the form of Daikin air source ERQ200AW (R410a) heat pump condensing units. These were selected to operate in heating only and provide a cop of 4.18 at design conditions (3ºCdb outdoor temperature, and 21ºCwb indoor temperature).

The New Visitor Centre

The New Visitor Centre based at Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey (Headquarters of DWCT) is without doubt a remarkable and outstanding exemplar for the extensive use of natural and sustainable building materials and services that expertly combine innovative renewable heat and low to zero carbon technologies with many unusual recycled elements. The process of understanding and appreciating the very concept of sustainability and conservation truly begins the moment visitors arrive at the threshold of this world-renowned wildlife conservation facility.

Electric Vehicle charging points and cycle bays are placed in priority locations, together with Public transport provisions.

The Brief

The brief provided by DWCT was to take the existing admissions building and re-model it into a sustainable new gateway into the wildlife park.

A striking new granite wall in multi-coloured layers, acts as an orientation device for the approach, entry and exit sequences. Inside the building the back of the granite wall is used to create an educational messaging wall introducing core conservation, renewable technology and sustainability messages through its design and integrated displays.

The fully accessible Visitor Centre now provides a new admissions and membership facility, a café and outdoor terrace, expanded retail areas, a garden centre, flexible function/exhibition space and an outdoor multifunction market space. These facilities can be used and enjoyed without entering the park, thus making a valuable contribution to the local community as well as being part of a leading island tourist destination.

A mature Lime, forming part of an avenue of trees, emerges through the timber floored dining terrace creating a dynamic interaction with the natural environment of the conservation park and emphasises the sustainable ethos of the whole design concept. Where, otherwise the trees might have been felled to make way for the construction, they have actually been sensitively integrated into the site.


Energy Usage & Sustainability

Energy usage & sustainability have been key drivers through all aspects of the scheme - from the demolition process where 70% of material was reused elsewhere on site, to renewable heat technology, key passive ventilation and lighting concepts, which ensure on-going minimal energy usage. 

This philosophy informed the whole design and construction process right down to the selection and specification of innovative materials, fixtures and fittings, many of which are made from reclaimed waste or recycled materials.

The original visitors centre suffered badly from overheating in summer; the new building, despite being larger in size, with more windows and enjoying significantly more daylight has been designed to address this problem through the incorporation of passive ventilation systems and solar control glass to reduce the solar gain. 

The hybrid ventilation system ensures the heating and ventilation of the internal space is optimised and the use of passive ventilation via ‘windcatchers’ and openable rooflights in the main entrance area are maximised to reduce energy consumption. An intelligent building management system, monitors both internal and external conditions to optimise the operation of any mechanical plant when maintaining the internal conditions.

A passive approach has also been taken to lighting the building’s interior, with new rooflights and sunpipes incorporated wherever possible to bring natural light deep into the building. Low energy and LED lighting equipment has been used together with daylighting control facilities to help minimise energy use.

An array of Solar Thermal panels provides heating of the building’s water. 

The Daikin air source heat pumps, supplied by Space Airconditioning plc, absorb heat energy freely available in the ambient air and upgrades this to provide all the heating to the internal public spaces of the new facility and enable high levels of efficiency (COP’s of 4.18) and a rapid response to internal temperature changes as demanded by a building of this type. 

The central air handling equipment, which distributes the heating, also employs cross flow plate heat exchangers to maximise the heat retention 
of the building when in the heating mode.

Daikin Air Source heat pumps were specified in preference to a ground source alternative also considered. According to Jersey Energy, in this application air source offered comparable energy efficiency at a fraction of the installed cost of a ground source heat pump and with none of the site disruption that the associated ground works would have entailed. Peter Cadiou, of Jersey Energy added, “We have successfully applied Daikin equipment supplied by Space Air on many projects and the product quality, combined with excellent support services we receive from Space Air, greatly influenced our specifying decision”. 

Energy and water monitoring of the site is on going to enable a 12-month review to take place on the operation of the building and set objective targets for the forthcoming year. 

The development is the main gateway for the 150,000+ annual visitors to Jersey’s iconic wildlife park.

Designed by Ray Hole Architects in association with local architectural firm Axis Mason, the main contractor was locally based Camerons and the Building Services and Sustainability Engineers were Jersey Energy, under the direction of Consultant, Peter Cadiou. 


The Opening

The project was completed on time against a very tight programme; this was underlined by the prearranged date for the official opening Centre by HRH Princess Anne. 
Durrell Chief Executive Paul Masterton said, “This project has been a huge team effort between Durrell, the States of Jersey, many island consultants, contractors and equipment suppliers.” 

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