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NCEUB

Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings Research

Ph D 4

Title of thesis Natural Ventilation in Theatre Design
Abstract The theatre environment poses a challenge to the passive designer due to the high, intermittent occupancy and lighting loads, the sedentary nature of the occupants, stringent acoustic requirements, blackout conditions and the need to ensure satisfactory removal of heat, odours and carbon dioxide. Given these demanding environmental requirements, this thesis aims to examine whether naturally-ventilated theatres located in the United Kingdom can be designed to achieve occupant comfort.
Surveys of audiences in four case-study theatres (two of which are naturally-ventilated) in the UK are carried out during fifteen performances at different times of the year. Statistical analysis of the results in relation to measured air and globe temperature, relative humidity and air movement indicate that the maximum temperature reached during a performance is correlated with audience thermal sensation. Neutral temperature lies between 21-22°C, and thermal preference lies between 22-22.7°C. The auditorium seating has been found to be the most important predictor of overall comfort.
Given that temperature emerged as an important variable from the comfort surveys, a detailed air temperature monitoring exercise is carried out in the two naturally-ventilated case study buildings, the Auden and Bedales Theatres, in summer and winter. Both theatres are maintained at comfortable temperatures on average but there is considerable deviation from this spatially and temporally. Adequately heating incoming air at foot level in winter in a displacement ventilation system emerges as an issue.
In order to explore the origins of the temperature variations in the theatres, large-scale air circulation patterns are modelled using small scale physical models (referred to as 'tanks') of the case-study buildings. In displacement mode, cool temperatures are measured at the air inlet. Mixing ventilation in both theatres produces a more uniform thermal environment; however the stack configuration affects flow patterns.
Experimental results from the modelling are compared to a simple ventilation model. There is good agreement between this theory and the experiments for simple upflow with a uniform horizontal heat load in the Bedales tank, and for mixing ventilation in the Auden Theatre tank once the value of the discharge coefficient has been determined experimentally. The model needs to be developed to describe more complex effects such as the stratification in the Auden Theatre tank in displacement mode.
Modelling using thermal analysis software indicates that lightweight fabric is slightly more energy-efficient than thermally-massive fabric in the UK climate, however thermal mass inside the auditorium is better at attenuating high heat loads and therefore improving comfort during performances.
In conclusion, naturally-ventilated theatres in the UK can be comfortable for the occupants but require careful design and management to maintain internal temperatures within the comfort zone.
Researcher / Institution Dr Gail Kenton
Status / Publication date Thesis completed
Keywords Theatres, Natural ventilation, Comfort, Neutral temperature, Temperature variation
Related publications Kenton A.G. (2005) Thermal Comfort in the Theatre, Proc. PLEA 2005, Beirut
Kenton A.G., Fitzgerald S, Woods A. (2004) Theory and Practice of Natural Ventilation in a Theatre, Proc. PLEA 2004, Eindhoven (Winner of Best Paper Award)
Kenton A.G. (2004) Natural Ventilation in Auditorium Design: Strategies for Passive Environmental Control, Proc. PLEA 2004, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Contact details Amanda Gail Kenton agk26@cam.ac.uk
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