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Young building services engineers assess First Direct Arena

A group of building services students gain insight into the vast hvac system serving the internationally renowned First Direct Arena.

A group of building services students gained a unique insight into the vast hvac system serving the internationally renowned First Direct Arena (formerly Leeds Arena), as part of an event sponsored by Toshiba distributor Cool Solutions Distribution.

The visit, organized by CIBSE Yorkshire Region Young Engineers, gave behind-the-scenes access to the plant and design philosophy at the 13,500 seating capacity arena, including plant rooms, upper level gantries and air handling systems.

The building is the first in the UK to have a fan-shaped orientation.

This, coupled with the sheer scale of the main auditorium and related facilities, posed an interesting challenge to the building services designers, Arup Leeds, and M&E contractor Rotary.

The 35-strong group of young engineers from Leeds College of Building and Leeds Metropolitan University were given a briefing on the design of the services and their implementation by key members of the design and contracting project teams.

The CPD-linked event was designed to pass on valuable knowledge and expertise gained in the execution of one of the largest projects to be undertaken in the region for many years.

Leading the tour was Blyth Davies, project engineer at Rotary International Ltd, who was project manager for the installation.

A technical seminar was led by Rob Gill of Yonder Consulting, responsible for Part L compliance and modelling for the site.

And an insight into the design of air handling plant was provided by Wes Campbell, technical director at Air Handling Systems Ltd.

Chris Tunningly, curriculum manager for Building Services at Leeds College of Building, said: “It was an excellent opportunity for our HNC Building Services Engineering students to gain experience of a real project, and on a grand scale.

“It highlighted the challenges encountered by the M&E design team for such an unusual venue, and included a CPD session on the installation and a guided tour around the arena looking at plant rooms, electrical systems, Air Handling Units and associated equipment.”

He added: “The staff who hosted the event were extremely knowledgeable and able to answer all the students questions. Our students found the experience very useful and helped them to relate college work to a real installation. Overall it was very enjoyable visit, which I would thoroughly recommend.”

Andrew Keegan, sales manager at CSD and one of the organisers of the event, said: “The aim was to provide young building services engineers with a first-hand insight into the thinking and processes behind the design and installation of such a major project.


“Thanks go in particular to David Richardson at Rotary for coordinating the event with the arena.”

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