learnd deliver siemens BMS upgrade at Contact Theatre as part of extensive refurbishment programme.

What is Contact Theatre

Contact is a leading national theatre and arts venue and non-profit organisation. It differs from other theatres in the way that it’s run. Contact puts young people at the centre of everything they do, with people aged 13-30 genuinely leading, working alongside staff in deciding the artistic programme, making staff appointments and act as full Board members.

About the space

Contact houses a main foyer, a large auditorium, and several other performance spaces that are available to be booked my performance artists – singers, dancers and actors. The spaces can also be booked for events, such as weddings, conferences and events.

The refurb

Following an extensive refurbishment programme, Contact was due to re-open in mid-2020, but this was delayed due to COVID-19. The refurbishment has been delivered in line with their ethos; young people have been involved in the decision making process from start to finish, which included creating specifications and selecting contractors.

Our part in this refurb has been to deliver an upgrade to the buildings aged BMS system. Upgrading the site presented a couple of significant challenges.

Natural ventilation

Contact is wholly naturally ventilated, with no mechanical cooling or extraction in use. Whilst this contributes in a fantastic manner to the building’s appearance (the giant chimneys), it also represented some significant challenges that we had to overcome. Firstly, monitoring the velocity of air and closing the dampers, should there be a detection of negative velocity. This removes the potential for cold air dumping and the back draft of pre-intended extracted air during the heating session.

Secondly, during the summer season, we needed to provide the ability to provide free cooling, but whilst maintaining a reduction in CO2 levels. 

Space control

The spaces are used by a wide range of performers, with differing  requirements. An acting class, for example would be perfectly comfortable with a temperature dead band between 19-21°C, but for dancers, temperature is often set much higher, up to around 23°C, to help avoid injuries. CO2 levels are also vital in crowded spaces such as auditoriums. High levels of CO2 can result in theatre-goers feeling lethargic and uncomfortable.

To address the control issues, we installed intuitive room controllers in each space, providing an LCD display view of the current room temperature and CO2 levels. Local user adjustment is available in a pre-set temperature range to alter the setpoint and drive open/closed natural ventilation dampers.