SUEZ’s new SITA Energy from Waste Facility in Great Blakenham has officially opened and already set a precedent for industrial architecture. Designed by Grimshaw Architects, this innovative building breaks down the mystery of waste facilities and creates an open, attractive scheme which also includes office accommodation and a visitor centre.
Described as ‘exemplary’ when reviewed by CABE, the plant provides an alternative to landfill by generating electricity from household waste. The facility will process 269,000 tonnes of waste per year generating electricity for approximately 30,000 homes.
Grimshaw’s team looked to the surrounding topography, textures and colours of the landscape to inform the design of the building’s façades. The boiler hall’s principal façade takes inspiration from the natural forms and patterns found in the expansive Suffolk skies, and it is clad in a dual layer cladding system with a semi-translucent inner skin that diffuses light and softens its appearance. The bespoke horizontal louvre system on the exterior alters the appearance of the building depending on angle of view and time of day.
Grimshaw’s design approach in dealing with the sculptural form of a large industrial building was to break down the overall mass, expressing each component and the process within. The facility keeps the overall volume to a minimum by closely wrapping the internal components in a discreet arrangement and simple silhouette. The effect of minimising the scale of the component parts of the plant is that it produces an efficient envelope and reduced costs during construction.
Grimshaw Partner, Kirsten Lees has said, “We are very pleased to have delivered a scheme that complements the Suffolk landscape and is set to engage meaningfully with the local community. Our practice has a rich heritage of designing industrial buildings, and we believe good design should play a vital role in refining these types of projects. We have enjoyed working with the team at SUEZ who saw the intrinsic value in creating a scheme that draws in visitors through its inspiring and inclusive design.”
Paul Leighton, plant manager from SUEZ has said, “The Suffolk energy-from-waste facility shows that an industrial building can complement its surroundings through innovative and sensitive design. SUEZ is pleased to have worked with Grimshaw who understood and overcame the challenges of building an energy-from-waste plant in Suffolk”.
Image credit: Jim Stephenson