ROBBENS UNDERFLOOR SYSTEM WARMS LONDON’S NEW CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL ART

A Robbens underfloor heating system is helping to provide the perfect environment for London's latest art gallery.

The heated floor will work in conjunction with chilled ceiling panels to create discreet all year round comfort for visitors to the newly opened Parasol unit at Wharf Road in Shoreditch.

The Parasol unit Foundation for Contemporary Art is committed to providing a showcase for artists from around the world. Its debut exhibition in May 2004 featured installations by seven artists from Rio de Janeiro and last autumn the whole gallery space was devoted to "Built in London" by the Swiss artist Mario Sala.

More recently the gallery has undergone a major refurbishment, which has included the installation of underfloor heating and chilled ceilings linked to a central control system.

Concealed system

The Parasol unit occupies the lower two floors of the building it shares with Atelier Miro Gallery - a total of some 800m2. The whole area, including kitchen and toilet facilities and the work units intrinsic to Parasol unit's education and artist-in-residence programmes, is heated by a concealed Robbens system integrated into the floor structure. Precious wall space is left free and the entire floor area is available for exhibits.

Power floated concrete has been used to form the floors; covering the insulation material and loops of Robbens pipework. The slab has been sealed and left uncovered, blending smoothly with the strong, uncluttered interior lines - and providing an ultra hardwearing floor finish.

Pipework loops are connected to discreetly located manifolds. Flow and return lines link the manifolds to the gas-fired condensing boiler plant, which serves the gallery.

Underfloor heating (see www.underfloorheating.co.uk) makes a perfect partner for condensing boilers – the low return temperature ensuring that the boiler is kept in ultra-efficient deep condensing mode for virtually the entire operating cycle.

Occupancy levels in the Parasol unit Gallery 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 independent zones - each with a thermostatic control to monitor the temperature of water flowing from the manifold into the concealed pipework loops.

True to its international credo, when work on the new gallery is completed under the supervision of Michael Drain Architects, Parasol unit will reopen with an exhibition of film and video by the Chinese artist Yang Fudong.

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