Robbens underfloor heating technology has helped to restore an old church building to a working role in the heart of its local community.

The Old School Rooms stand adjacent to the church of St Michaels on the village green at Stoke Gifford near Bristol. For over 100 years the two-storey structure provided a school for the village children. When modern educational needs finally outgrew the old stone-faced building, it reverted to church use – for a pre-school facility and a youth centre.

To refine and develop this role the Church of England recently embarked on a major extension and refurbishment of the building. A professional team was put together headed by specialist architect Derek Kemp of Church Projects Ltd.

The existing structure now features a new mezzanine level with ministers' offices above the lounge/buffet area created on the ground floor. The latter - served by the new kitchen facility - provides morning coffee and a social environment for all ages.

Modern extension

At the rear of the building the pre-school group and youth activities centre now enjoy a modern extension, part of which - the main hall - is open to full building height. This large, high-ceilinged area can be subdivided by acoustic partition doors to give maximum flexibility of use.

Robbens underfloor heating offered an ideal match for this need for comfort combined with versatility. " The system is space saving and offers unimpeded access to all areas," explains building services consultant Gerald Bartlett.

"Safety is a prime concern with a building of this type and Robbens underfloor heating technology meets the requirement for low surface temperatures without the need for cumbersome and costly LST radiators. It also takes up no wall space.”

Perfect complement

A concrete floor construction was used throughout the new extension. During installation loops of Robbens multi-layer pipework were fixed in position above a layer of insulation material with the loop ends connected, via manifolds, to the flow and return sides of the new boiler plant. This comprises two gas-fired condensing boilers each rated at 60kW.

Robbens underfloor heating makes a perfect complement for modern condensing boilers. The low return temperatures keep the boiler in high efficiency condensing mode for maximum economy (see

After pressure testing, a normal sand and cement screed was poured to integrate the heating system into the floor structure and provide a smooth, even surface for the final floor finish - laminated wood in the main hall with carpets and vinyl elsewhere.

Occupancy levels in the St Michael’s building vary widely according to the day of the week and the time of day. To combine full comfort for everyone in all circumstances with minimum fuel consumption the Robbens system is divided into 7 independent zones - including the toilet block and the new kitchen - each with a Danfoss TP75 thermostatic control to monitor the temperature of water flowing from the manifold into the concealed pipework loops.

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