Fast recovery

Martin Passingham of Daikin UK explores how a 960 mm parapet wall nearly ruined air conditioning plans for a listed five-storey house in Hyde Park, London.

Balancing comfort requirements against the practical and logistical realities of installing an air conditioning unit can be a major dilemma. This is especially true in urban areas where both outdoor space and available floor space is restricted, and often comes with a premium price.

This results in the units being installed on the roof of buildings or requires the installer to find a discreet alcove or corner to hide them. However, with inner city planning regulations protecting unique lines of sight, tall air conditioning units are frequently installed in basements – meaning valuable usable space is lost.

Finding a solution that meets both the demands of the urban environment and planning restrictions can therefore present several challenges for both installers and developers. This was recently seen during an installation in London’s Hyde Park.

Following a multi-million pound redevelopment of a listed five-storey house, a 960 mm parapet wall nearly scuppered plans to air condition the plush apartments.

Planning constraints meant the heat recovery condensing units originally specified for the second, third and fourth floor apartments were too tall to go on the roof behind the parapet wall.

Leading the installation was London-based contractor Hoveair. With air conditioning a key specification for the luxury apartments’ bedrooms and living areas, the installers recommended a new equipment manufacturer.

Hoveair project director, David Collins, says:

“We were awarded this project on our innovative design solution to overcome the difficulties of renovating a listed building in a prestige area of London.”

The choice of low height mini-VRV heat pumps, which stand 918 mm tall after being mounted on 95 mm rubber bearers, satisfied building control and the air conditioning solution subsequently gained planning permission.

Made especially for urban environments with high-density residential properties, compact units like the product used are designed to have an especially low profile. Ideal for projects where space is limited and within inner cities, where elevation control restrictions are in place, these systems can provide a compact solution, with some products also offering a high level of energy-efficiency.

Installed behind parapet walls or on balconies, mini units such as the two models installed on this project are effectively ‘unseen’. They are also quiet at 51 dBA and 52 dBA respectively, and at 94 kg, are easy to move into position – an added benefit when installing units on rooftops.

David Collins added:

“Selection of this equipment has enabled us to provide heating and cooling in each of the apartments in an energy efficient manner. It also enabled us to overcome the urban limitations by having a significantly smaller footprint, lower profile and limited noise, the mini-VRV unit helps ensure compliance with the stringent planning conditions for this project.”

“We will definitely consider this solution for future residential projects. Heat recovery systems were originally specified to give future residents the flexibility to use cooling and heating simultaneously, if needed. The mini-VRV heat pump systems provide either heating or cooling, but we have kept the flexibility by providing each of the upper apartments with two systems, one for each living area and one for the bedrooms.

“The large apartment beneath is air conditioned with a conventional heat recovery system served by a 16 hp condensing unit discreetly positioned at the rear of the building.”

The apartments have a mix of discreet, concealed fan coil units – including wall mounted vertical chassis units and medium static ceiling units – meaning the air conditioning is almost as invisible indoors as it is outdoors.

For high-density urban areas, where space is an expensive commodity and planning restrictions aim to reduce the visual impact of air conditioning units, knowledge of the latest climate control system innovations is key.

By incorporating climate control systems designed specifically for urban residential properties, a comfortable indoor climate can be achieved without compromising valuable free space, while complying with planning regulations.

Martin Passingham is product manager at Daikin UK.