Urbanest Vine Street, London

Delivering high quality, sustainable, student accommodation

Project Details

  • Scheme & Version: BREEAM NC 2014 Multi-Residential Accommodation New Construction (Fully Fitted)
  • Certification Stage: Design Stage
  • Rating: Outstanding
  • Overall Score: 85.2%

Project Team

  • Developer / Client: Urbanest
  • Architect: Apt
  • Building Services: MTT
  • Constructor: Balfour Beatty
  • Assessor Company: MTT/SUSTAIN
  • Project Manager: TowerEight
  • Structural Engineer: Robert Bird Group

About the Building

Urbanest Vine Street – Student Accommodation is a new multi-residential scheme, forming part of a mixed-use development also including offices, business start-up ‘incubator’ units, a shop/café and exhibition space. Two undistinguished and out of date office buildings previously occupied the site. The basements of these however accommodated an element of the Roman London Wall, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, access to which the redevelopment will open up to the public for the first time. The student accommodation has a gross floor area of 14,071 m2 and consists of 619 rooms in a mix of accommodation typologies – studios, non en-suite 3-bed and 4-bed clusters, en-suite clusters with shared living facilities and twin bedrooms with shared facilities. 5% of rooms are fully accessible with a further 5% designed to be converted to accessible rooms if required. Two common room spaces are provided on the 14th floor, available to all students. There are additional study spaces for students on the ground floor adjacent to reception and on-site laundry facilities are provided at basement level, along with bin stores and bike stores. All facilities will have accessibility provisions.

The building is situated within the eastern fringe of the City of London, on a site adjoining Vine Street, Crosswall and Crutched Friars. It is in close proximity to London Fenchurch Street, Aldgate, Tower Hill and Tower Gateway stations, 12 bus routes and a high quality network of pedestrian and cycle routes. The building is owned and developed by Urbanest, a leading contemporary student accommodation provider, focused on delivering the highest quality space and sector leading service to students, working closely with major Universities in London.
The Client’s aspiration for Urbanest Vine Street was that the proposed development attained the highest levels of sustainability (in a social, economic and environmental sense) within the commercial and site constraints imposed by redeveloping a complex existing site. In common with their other schemes, BREEAM was key in establishing what the scheme could aspire to and in turn demonstrating the effectiveness of the measures implemented.

Key features include a CHP-based central heating and hot water generation system to be provided to serve the entire development, with extensive façade/roof mounted photovoltaic (PV) panels. The proposed scheme’s CO2 emissions are at least 24% better than Building Regulations Part L requirements. There is a project target for 100% of waste arisings to be diverted from landfill.

Why did the building undergo BREEAM certification?

A scheme designed to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ principles was a key element of the design brief from the inception of the Urbanest Vine Street scheme (for all elements), in accordance with Urbanest’s ethos and practice on their other schemes and the City of London’s policy requirements. They wanted the scheme not just to claim ‘sustainability credentials’ for its design but also to be able to demonstrate these through benchmarking against independent best-practice targets.
BREEAM allowed the client and project team to establish where they wanted to be with the performance of the scheme, decide how they were going to get there and to measure their progress along the way.

The scheme achieved high levels of performance in all the categories of the BREEAM assessment, achieving all available Credits in the Management and Transport categories and 90% of those for Land Use and Ecology – a remarkable achievement for an inner-city site previously consisting entirely of buildings and hard landscaping, the layout of which needed to both protect and open up public access to a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Having secured certification with an ‘Excellent’ rating, the Client, Project Team and Contractor agreed to more stringent waste targets and further enhanced cooling plant to enable an even higher score to be sought, meaning that the scheme was resubmitted to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ rating.

Green Strategy

As a major scheme in the City of London, the project was subject to the Greater London Authority’s requirements for BREEAM, energy and carbon savings and for the incorporation of low and zero carbon (LZC) technologies, but the overall BREEAM score achieved demonstrates the project went significantly beyond these already demanding standards.

BREEAM requires a broader range of considerations when undertaking LCZ feasibility studies than are called for by the City and the GLA, it encouraged the designers to also consider and weigh the implications of life-cycle costs, resulting in a better optimised solution for Urbanest who will own and operate the building on completion.

BREEAM also had a positive impact on optimising the window design and glazing selection for the student rooms, encouraging the designers to strike a balance between the health and wellbeing benefits of effective daylighting and the need to minimise excessive solar gains into the building. The need for dynamic thermal modelling (in place of simpler approaches) to understand these issues benefited the understanding and optimisation of energy, daylight and thermal comfort issues across the development.

The benefits of assessing to BREEAM

Urbanest believe the balance that BREEAM brings to issues such as daylighting, thermal comfort and air quality means residents will experience the optimal conditions to enjoy student life at Urbanest Vine Street. With students increasingly aware of environmental and health and wellbeing issues, the certification provides assurance to them that these key concerns have been addressed in the scheme design, with measures validated against best practice.

The refinements that BREEAM brought to the site’s energy and renewables strategy (by adding lifecycle considerations to the demanding planning targets) also mean that as developers and future operators they are assured of having very best long-term energy solutions.

Urbanest have longstanding experience applying BREEAM delivering high quality student accommodation across London throughout the last decade. Our BREEAM journey has brought us to our highest score to date as we understand how best practice is achieved and how better practice can be aspired to.– Angus Kearin, Projects Director, Urbanest