Reduce, Reuse, Repair – Sustainable Practice in our Refurbishment


As the world calls for solutions to help the climate emergency, we’re highlighting how sustainable practice is a key consideration in the refurbishment of the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the architecture firm responsible for the re-design and ‘retrofit’ of the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre have been pioneers of the green agenda since the firm was founded over 40 years ago. An industry leader when it comes to environmental sustainability principles and practice, they recently won a Building Design Architect of the Year Award for their refurbishment projects.

Peter Clegg, one of their founding partners, explains: “In our practice we have been focussed on low energy design since our beginnings, with the emphasis on operational energy and the reduction of electricity consumption.”

Now, FCBStudios – which is a founding supporter of sustainability action plan One Planet Living and Architects Declare – is at the forefront of low carbon architecture. “More recently, our attention has re-focussed on embodied carbon - the carbon costs of constructing, repairing and maintaining the building.”

One of the best ways to limit the carbon emissions of construction is to re-use existing buildings and updating them for a modern, low-energy future.

Tim Healy, FCBStudios Architect leading the project adds: “The original construction of the 200-year old Corn Exchange was sound, and the workmanship was exemplary – which alongside the historic and cultural significance of the building has given us a fantastic canvas to work with.” 

“As there was no provision for heating in Regency period buildings, over the years a lot of internal systems have been added in. We’ve been working alongside building services engineers Max Fordham  to strip back these outdated heating systems and replace them with low energy solutions.”

Making the building sustainable while improving the comfort of audiences, staff and performers have gone hand-in-hand during the renovation.

“We’re introducing air handling units for heat recovery,” says Healy. “When the buildings are really busy during an event, stale warm air will be removed at high level within the venue roof spaces while conditioned fresh air will be pushed in at low level and displaced at low velocity, significantly improving comfort levels.”

This circulatory ventilation system will reduce energy usage whilst ensuring both venues are well ventilated and maintained at the right temperature.

“For low energy systems to be most efficient, we’ve also had to look at reducing heat loss – a major environmental issue, particularly for older properties – by focusing on the ‘envelope’ of the building. The effect of this will be to make the building more self-regulating and public spaces like the foyer more comfortable for visitors.” explains Healy.

FCBStudios not only incorporate sustainability into their work, but also educate and support the wider construction and design industries. They run a series of campaigns and exhibitions, sharing knowledge, making connections and remaining at the forefront of sustainable architecture.

Find out more about the Studio’s ‘What is net zero carbon?’