Cambridge’s leading college rowers are equipped for the future with the completion of a new, state-of-the-art boathouse. The new £3.5m boathouse for Gonville & Caius College- which has won more Headships of the River this century than any other College- features space for 30 boats, a gym, changing rooms and a specialist boat workshop.  Its location on Ferry Path puts it in the River Cam conservation area; thus the design reflects the historic setting and uses sustainable strategies within- including natural ventilation delivered via bespoke terminals designed and engineered by Britain’s leading air movement specialist Gilberts Blackpool.

Thus the boathouse, designed by bb+c architects and built by Cocksedge Building Contractors, features 6no Mistrale 75 penthouse roof terminals.

Five of the terminals provide natural ventilation for the main boathouse space, and feature dampers to attenuate the airflow as required 24/7, 365 days a year regardless of weather; opening rooflights have been included into the roof to maximise summertime ventilation. The sixth terminal serves as a duct for the MVHR unit serving the changing rooms and showers, where additional ventilation is required to address the additional moisture from showering etc generated within.

“There has been much attention to balancing the heritage of the area, and the site, with delivering a building fit for the future,” explained Carl Brookes, engineer/partner at leading environmental engineering consultants Max Fordham. “We examined a number of cooling options. Detailed environmental modelling was used to predict what the typical summer internal conditions might be achieved with a polished concrete floor and exposed blockwork walls, in tandem with a suitably-sized natural ventilation system. The modelling suggested the 18oC target for a conditioned gymnasium wouldn’t be achieved with just natural ventilation on an especially hot day. However, it was felt the environmental benefits of a natural ventilation strategy outweighed the finite degree of temperature control available by using air conditioning. A couple of large fans have been included to enhance air movement if necessary.

“We have a good working relationship with Gilberts, and knew the company could deliver a system that would work, and had the ability and capability, in-house, to develop bespoke terminals that complimented the building’s architecture & design.”

Gilberts’ penthouse terminals provide intake and extract at high level, with a 50% free ventilation area.  Class A rated, they ensure appropriate flow of air without weather ingress. The VN75 damper within is designed to provide accurate and stable airflow whilst presenting a solid thermal barrier with negligible draughts when closed. Mistrale 75 volume control damper is a unique design that offers extremely low leakage, when closed, of just 5m3/hr/m2.

In the boathouse, Gilberts’ terminals supplement rooflights at high level, where the terminals can be open when poor weather conditions prevent the rooflights from being used, and fresh air is brought in at low level via manually opened balcony doors and windows fronting the river.

Founded 55 years ago, Gilberts Blackpool is Britain’s leading independent air movement specialist, and is unique in its ability to develop components- be it ‘mainstream’ or bespoke- entirely in-house, from initial design through tooling, production, testing and supply, at its 85,000 ft2 manufacturing facility. Its state of the art test centre, designed and built in-house, is one of the most technically advanced in the country.