29 January 2018

Their ancestors were farmers, they are among European leaders in the field of healthy buildings. In this sequel, we learn how the Slavkov company LIKO-S has managed to look at the construction and equipment of office buildings in a new way.

Last time , we let Libor Musil describe how their family business started and how their first ideas were born for buildings in which people would feel comfortable. Today we examine the specific solutions and also how you can be cool without air conditioning. Again, I give the word over to the company founder.

credit: Photo: LIKO-S

With the arrival of the new generation, young blood in the management, it was suddenly necessary to create an even better workplace. Gradually, from the ideas of sitting under the trees at the fire pond behind the company, or overlooking the surroundings from the wooden deck with parasols on the roof of our building, we arrived at a roofed gazebo equipped with modern outdoor furniture. Nevertheless, bringing people closer to Nature and escaping the sterile environment of a modern office have always played a major role in our debates.

However, we had one imperative necessity: to move from these beautiful ideas to the practical level. This meant creating a space that would be different, close to Nature and pleasant, while providing basic working comfort regardless of the weather.

There were even some unconventional ideas: we can, to some extent, give up comfort if it is balanced with being in immediate touch with Nature. Simply feeling a bit warmer in summer even when working on a computer, and wearing a few more clothes in winter. Change the rules.

When thinking about the design of this new building, it was clear who the central focus of our interest was. A contented employee. Someone may argue that, after all, this is in the interest of every office space developer. Especially lately. But the vast majority of these developers follow the established rules. We wanted to break them. One thing was necessary in order to do that: find out what is wrong with the current rules.

Times have changed. Some of the major things that are different in our environment are the weather and the more difficult access to Nature. It’s hot and it is a long distance from the office to the forest.

Close to Nature

credit: Photo: LIKO-S

So what do we not like about offices? For years we have guided our customers to take care of acoustics, lighting and a good layout. That’s why we excel in the market of acoustic materials that reduce noise levels, and we improve our adjustable partitions – to make them more beautiful and quicker to adjust, in order to create the ideal workplace layout. That’s why we frame all this with high-quality lighting and glass walls.

But where is the most important life function – breathing? Okay, we do not exactly suffocate in the offices, but what exactly attracts us to the forest? Is it the sufficiency of fresh and, lately mainly naturally cool air, and also the possibility of contact with Nature? Nature to us means mainly plants and fresh air.

So we asked the question: how can we have greenery and cool fresh air all around in our new development centre? With regard to the air, it is like this: it is necessary to bring it in differently than by using conventional ventilation equipment and air conditioning. If currently the biggest problem with the air in our workplace is the uncomfortable, coldly buzzing air-conditioning, then we have to invent a building where there will be no need at all to cool the air in summer. We have to break the rules.

We considered: what heats up the air inside a building? How does one prevent the heating of air brought in from outside? We will try to construct a building that does not need modern technologies to take care of thermal comfort. We will try to design a building that has natural thermal stabilisation. A building designed in a modern way, with the technological air conditioning replaced by natural air conditioning.

How to Cool Down

We thermally stabilised the construction by the following steps:

  • we limited the glassed areas only to those necessary, getting rid of south-facing windows and having the other windows north- and east-facing as far as possible;
  • we insulated the cladding perfectly, both with high quality glass and the highest quality foam insulation available on the market;
  • we connected the interior to the underground part of the building (cellar), where it is cooler than outside in summer and warmer in winter;
  • collector, in which it is naturally heated or cooled;
  • further stabilisation is provided by the pond – both in summer and winter;
  • we cooled the cladding of the building by covering it in plants and giving it a green façade and roof;
  • and we added one new feature – a root wastewater treatment plant on the roof and the walls, which is a globally unique solution.

credit: Photo: LIKO-S

Linking the well thermally stabilised interior to the exterior of the building reduces the demands on the technologies inside, allows for the air to be exchanged through natural ventilation, and gives people a new space to work in the surroundings of the building with a touch of Nature.

In order to demonstrate that natural thermal stabilisation can also be created in the assembled building system, our engineers created the design and the time schedule of the construction, so that everything was completed within 27 days of the first dig. And the result was born!

In the next sequel, we focus on the specific benefits of these new features.

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