BRE Visitors Centre

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Project Data
Location BRE Innovation Park @Ravenscraig, Visitor Centre, 2 Ravenscliff Road, Motherwell, ML1 1AE
Client BRE Scotland
Date Completed May 2012
Gross Internal Floor Area  120sqm
Project Value  £200,000
Funding Sources BRE Scotland / CCG (Scotland) Ltd / Edinburgh Napier University / North Lanarkshire Council
Architect Kraft Architecture
Main Contractor CCG (Scotland) Ltd
Structural Engineer URS
Services Engineer Summit Services
Quantity Surveyor  Armour Associates
Specialist Consultant Energy Consultants: Building Regulations Services Ltd. BREEAM Assessment: BRE Scotland


The Visitor Centre is the first building to be built on the BRE Innovation
Park at Ravenscraig. It is a high performance building in its own right.


The first BRE Innovation Park was opened in Watford in 2005 with the
aim of trialling and testing new ideas from architects, developers and
manufacturers before they were applied to real communities. Initially
three buildings were manufactured for the event ‘Offsite05’ and were
constructed on an area of car park in the centre of the BRE site. Over the
seven years since its inception, a total of twelve demonstration buildings
have been constructed (plus a refurbishment project) and over 60,000
people have visited.

The Innovation Park at Watford is now a low to zero carbon demonstration
of innovative construction methods and technologies. It supports an
educational programme, a networking and knowledge exchange hub and
is a unique venue for events.

The BRE Innovation Park at Ravenscraig has similar aims but has followed
a different process. From the beginning, a ‘ground-up’ approach has been
adopted to make the Innovation Park not just a demonstration of innovative
buildings, but an exemplar in sustainable planning and development.


The visitor centre has been designed to demonstrate the following:

  • BREEAM Outstanding Design Stage
  • Lean/Off-Site Manufacturing Process
  • Green Guide to Material Specification
  • Locally Sourced Materials and Suppliers
  • Water Conservation
  • Tackling Indoor Air Quality
  • Onsite Waste Minimisation
  • Low Energy/Zero Carbon
  • Secured by Design
  • Ongoing Post Occupancy Evaluation


The traditional insitu slab foundation system was determined by the
brownfield site conditions, an inverted floor design was used to enable a very high thermal performance & underfloor heating.

The manufacture of the superstructure system uses Scottish C16 Timber,
and was delivered in a large format closed panel system to site, greatly
speeding up the build process.

Both wall and roof panels arrived prefabricated and used a crane erection


The BRE Visitor Centre is a simple form with an open plan layout. The
service area is located in one corner, with toilets, kitchen and plant room.
The rest of the floor plan is open to allow maximum space for seminars
and events.

The structure is constructed from locally sourced timber, grown and milled
in Scotland. It uses a closed panel timber system, the construction of
which is zero onsite and offsite wastage. The building design, and this
construction method results in low linear thermal bridging. This construction method enables a fast crane erection on site and safer assembly.

Innovative materials were used throughout the visitor centre:

A feature internal wall was created using innovative cross-laminated timber (CLT). This was formed using layered timber sections, with the grain of each layer running perpendicular to the next. The layers are formed into a panel by treatment with resin and high pressure to bond them together;
In order to keep the Visitor Centre at a constant temperature a ceiling panel system incorporating Phase Change Material – CoolZone, was used. This adds to the thermal mass and melts and solidifies at specific temperatures allowing it to store large amounts of energy;
A solvent free floor was used to create a hardwearing, joint free finish. Masterop was supplied by BASF and is a elastomeric and polyurethane product;
To improve air quality, Fermacell’s ‘Greenline’ building boards were installed as they absorb Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs);
A Noxite roofing membrane, which uses sun, wind and rain to transform harmful nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrates, was used. This is a method of dealing with one of six greenhouse gases. The granular titanium dioxide finish is activated by UV radiation from the sun and converts nitrogen oxide (NOx) particles (carried by polluted air) into nitrates, which are then washed away by rainfall.

In Use

The Visitor Centre will host a number of research projects throughout the life of the building.

Testing is ongoing on the solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, battery storage, air source heat pump, voltage optimization, building management systems, building environment sensors & the fabric.

Key Lessons

  1. The building demonstrates that home-grown Scottish timber can be used on light commercial / industrial buildings but that mitigating measures to control overheating is required.
  2. The effects of varying temperatures on exposed home-grown CLT surfaces can lead to shrinkage and opening of joint lines, consideration to be given to additional gluing.
  3. Incorporation of localised structural steel for long span to be carefully considered.

Further Information

Image credits:

AG Photographic

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