Varity House, Peterborough

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TMV Architects

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Building Services Design

Conversion of a 3-storey abandoned office building into a high grade, 4-storey residential development


Peterborough is a city of innovation with a rich history and a diverse culture. Within the ‘London-Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough Corridor’- a priority growth area defined by CLG – and nine years into a fifteen year, £1 billion redevelopment, the city’s transformation grows from strength to strength.
BSD has been appointed by GKL to provide the detailed design of the mechanical and public health systems for this new £7M conversion.


Early on in the process Building Control identified that, due to the size of the building, a sprinkler system would be required to cover all the apartments. Following the review of various options a traditional mist system was chosen, however this would need a 4,000L storage tank. Having carried out the domestic water sizing and pressure drop calculations, we also discovered that a booster set and break tank would be required.
Due to size restraints to the external plant areas, an innovative solution was required to house the sprinkler and boosted water storage tanks.


Rather than separately tank the services we investigated using a combined supply. The larger supply would take priority and sizing was as per the Institute of Plumbing (IOP) guidelines which gave a domestic supply of 13,000L. However, as storage was not a necessity and the tank was only creating an air break between the mains and the booster set, a 20 minute supply would suffice, generating 8,400L of storage which was more than ample for the mist sprinkler system.
In case of emergency a priority valve arrangement was installed with a flow sensor and a 2-port solenoid. If the mist system was triggered, the flow sensor activates sending a signal to the 2-port solenoid, which in turn isolates the supply for the domestic system. This method ensured that the entire tanked supply was available for the sprinkler supply in case of emergency.


Despite its excellent location and extensive efforts to re-sell the building as office accommodation Varity House remained empty and abandoned for a considerable time. It now has a new lease of life as a stylish development of 97 one bed and two bedroom high quality apartments with plenty of parking within a landscaped setting, situated just one mile east of Peterborough City Centre.

Completion dates:
Ground Floor July / 1st Floor September / 2nd Floor November – 2016