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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
The moving building
Hull, Arc

Five choices of Britain's best new architecture

To mark Architecture Week, each day the Magazine will look at a notable building opened in Britain in the past 12 months and ask what makes it different.

A building that has to move to a new location every few years is a brief that architects very rarely get. But that is the concept behind the Arc building in Hull.

It is built from a kit of five parts and each part is small enough to fit on the back of a trailer, as it will have to move around the city to a different location every four years.

The building - opened last Friday - is designed to be a focal point and symbol of regeneration for the city and is multi-purpose. It is the first-purpose built architecture centre in the UK and a learning resource for schools and education organisations.

The building's designers, Niall McLaughlin Architects, were awarded the contract before even having put a design on paper. The building was to be a symbol of Hull, so community groups and local residents were consulted about how they wanted the building to look.

Sea influences

"We didn't want to impose a design on local people," says Bev Dockray, an architect involved in the design. "We wanted to take ideas from local people and the local area."

Picture by Carl Palmer
(Picture by Carl Palmer)
One theme that is being worked into the design is the sea. Images of the sea will be projected onto the roof of the building at night, as a way of acknowledging Hull's association with the sea and fishing.

What also sets Arc apart from other new designs is that it is powered by renewable energy sources and is almost carbon neutral.

It has a mechanical garden of wind turbines and photovoltaic cells sufficient to power the lighting and computers. It has a two-way meter which not only records how much energy is used, but also how much unused electricity is sold back to the local energy company. Over the year it generates all the energy it uses.

It is also naturally ventilated. Air flowing across a trough of cool water is drawn into the triangular building through vents and rising warm air is drawn out through higher vents. It also has an innovative semi-translucent roof which allows some heat and light penetration, underfloor heating and wood-pellet burning boiler.

Built for the people of Humber and the Humber region, executive director of Arc, Chris Lamb, says: "It will be interesting to find out their views. All thoughts on the building are welcome as they provoke discussion about what is good design in our buildings."

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