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Garsington Opera

Client: Garsington Opera

Location: Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire

Size: 3,600m2

Project Start: October 2018

Our Scope: BREEAM Assessor and AP

Garsington Opera House is a rural development on Wallace Hill Farm in Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire. Envision is providing BREEAM Assessor and AP services to Conamar Building Services Ltd, appointed to deliver the Design and Build contract for the development of the Arts Hub on the site, a new rehearsal building, accommodating opera rehearsal rooms, performance space, storage for props, costumes and scenery, as well as offices and a café. The design includes improvement of the surrounding environment with increased biodiversity and implementation of swales in the hillside to improve drainage.

Envision has advised Conamar from the tender phase through to practical completion to ensure the targeted ‘Very Good’ BREEAM rating is achieved. We have supported the project through regular site visits, acting in the role of BREEAM Site AP, advising on observations where improvements could be made in relation to environmental impacts, biodiversity, carbon reduction, management of waste and wellbeing of the construction team. Currently, the project is near to completion; when the BREEAM post-construction audit will be carried out and the associated assessment submitted to the BRE for ‘Very Good’ certification.

During the tendering phase, Envision reviewed the current BREEAM strategy on behalf of Conamar, identifying the potential risks and opportunities in advance of contract agreement. We have subsequently worked with both Conamar and the client, Garsington Opera, to maximise the credits achieved. For example, the Flood Risk Assessment that was produced in the early design stages for the site confirmed that Wallace Hill Farm was at low risk from flooding from any sources. However, it was identified that due to an increase in car-parking on the crest of the hill, improvements would be required to the permeability of the land. The car parking area has therefore been constructed with geogrid grass surfaces. The land was built-up with recycled aggregate (retained from the excavation on site) and the geogrid installed upon it. This system ensures stabilisation of the aggregate below whilst simultaneously allowing grass to grow through, enabling surface water drainage. Just meters from the geogrid car-parking area are a set of purpose-built swales which were one of the first installations to the new development and have therefore had opportunity to settle into the environment. The swales have been seeded, to increase biodiversity and they now blend beautifully with the scenic aesthetic of the Garsington Opera setting, with seemingly natural undulations of the land – which now accommodates a happy herd of sheep! Further drainage improvements on site include a green roof, which is also being seeded, in order to accommodate a range of insects and species of flora; this will also reduce the overall volume of water discharged from the site.

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