Sustainable Building Case Study Uk Visa

This programme focuses on principles of sustainable planning, design and performance of large-scale and high-rise buildings and provides graduates with excellent career opportunities.

The design of low and medium-rise buildings has, for some time, taken climatic variations and sustainability into account. However, despite the increase in the number of large-scale buildings worldwide during the last few decades, high-rise buildings are still seen as mega-scale energy consumers with little regard for sustainable design and performance. The current environmental agenda and interest in sustainability across the globe raises the significance of mega-buildings.

On this interdisciplinary course, we focus on the principles of sustainable planning and design of mega-buildings and prepare students to specialise professionally in this field.

You will be based in the School of Architecture’s new studio for graduate students at Friary House, in Cardiff city centre. This is within 5-10 minutes’ walk of our other site, Bute Building.

Distinctive features

  • Accredited by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and by the by the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), meeting the academic requirements for CEng professional registration.
  • Available on a 1 year full-time or 2 year part-time basis.
  • See sustainable mega-building design in practice on a variety of national and international field trips.
  • Study in one of the top schools of architecture in the UK, and benefit from exceptional facilities, such as the School’s artificial sky dome.

Key facts

Admissions criteria

The course is suitable for graduates or experienced practitioners in disciplines related to the built environment, such as architecture, urban design, building services engineering, building technology or a relevant discipline in engineering or the built environment.

Applicants should normally hold a first or second class Honours degree or have appropriate professional experience. Applicants should hold a degree in a relevant subject area, such as Architectural Engineering, Architecture or related subjects, including Sustainable Design, Urban Planning, Environment and Sustainability, Environmental Design.

Applicants whose first language is not English or Welsh must satisfy the English Language requirements for entry to the University by attainment of a minimum IELTS overall score of 6.5 or equivalent.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

Applications can be made for this course via our Online Application Service. A PDF portfolio of relevant academic and/or professional architectural/ environmental/ urban design work will be required along with your application.

Decisions will be made on a continuous basis throughout the year on the basis of your written application and the references received.


You can study this course on a one year full-time or two year part-time basis.

There are two stages to the course; stage one comprises taught and specialist modules totalling 120 credits, stage two will be your dissertation (60 credits).

The taught modules on this course will provide a grounding in architectural science within the context of sustainable mega-buildings. On several of these modules, you will be taught alongside students on our other architectural science master’s courses, which is a good opportunity to exchange ideas from different perspectives and broaden your group of friends and contacts.

Our taught modules will help you to explore the interdependence and relationship between social, technological and environmental issues. You will also learn how to relate these issues to the economic, political and legal contexts of planning and designing mega-buildings. We will introduce and review the latest design methods for sustainable mega-buildings in architectural, engineering and building contractor fields.

On the course, we encourage you to articulate your perspectives on sustainable design, which should enable you to become well-versed and experienced in promoting the benefits of sustainable mega-buildings.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2018/19 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2018.

If you are enrolling on the full-time version of this course, you will undertake all taught modules and complete your dissertation in the year one.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

The methods of teaching we employ will vary from module to module, as appropriate depending on the subject matter and the method of assessment. We teach using a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops, study visits, project work, and group tutorials.

In lectures and workshops we aim to make appropriate use of audio-visual support to aid learning and development of subject-specific skills. You will be given access to relevant teaching materials through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central.

The specialist modules on the course include project work, where you will use mega-building case studies to build 3D physical models in the School’s workshop and Digital Fabrication Lab and can test them in the School’s artificial sky dome.

You will also be taught to use various environmental simulation software programmes, some of which have been developed in the Welsh School of Architecture.

Finally, you will research an area of sustainable mega-building design and planning of interest to you and submit a dissertation based on this research. Your dissertation will be conducted independently with supervision by a member of staff.

How will I be supported?

All of our students are allocated a personal tutor when they enrol on the course. A personal tutor is there to support you during your studies, and can advise you on academic and personal matters that may be affecting you. You should have regular meetings with your personal tutor to ensure that you are fully supported.

You will have access to our bespoke Architecture Library, as well as to materials in the other Cardiff University Libraries.


We offer written and oral feedback, depending on the coursework or assessment you have undertaken. You will usually receive your feedback from the module leader. If you have questions regarding your feedback, module leaders are usually happy to give advice and guidance on your progress.

How will I be assessed?

Taught and project-based modules are assessed in a variety of different ways depending on the module content and learning outcomes (found in the module descriptions). We use class tests, course work (both written assignments and oral presentations or critical assessments/crits), and project work, or a combination of these to assess your progress on the module.

In the dissertation stage, your dissertation is the sole object of assessment. The dissertation is a written report on a piece of research which you have carried out in an agreed subject area under supervision.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On completing the course you should be able to:

  • Understand the principles and strategies relevant to designing sustainable mega-buildings.
  • Explain how the philosophy and theory of designing mega-buildings relates to the built environment in a wider regulatory context.
  • Evaluate key theoretical and methodological perspectives in employing building modelling and energy simulation tools, on-site observations and monitoring, comparative performance data and calculate results to tackle specific design problems and explorations.
  • Critically analyse, interpret and evaluate complex information, concepts, theories and tools to develop original applications of knowledge.
  • Identify and apply appropriate analytical and technical tools, techniques and equipment, and computer software in conceptualising and addressing challenging design problems.
  • Demonstrate autonomy and originality in use of appropriate technologies and in determining approaches in response to the demands from government initiatives, legislation and the public for enhanced environmental performance of mega-buildings.
  • Critically evaluate decisions, methods and results when tackling problems and formulating sustainable design guidelines and proposals for new and existing mega-buildings.

Master's Excellence Scholarships

Scholarships available worth £3,000 each for UK/EU students starting a master’s degree in September 2018.

Find out more

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2018/19)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

EU students entering in 2018/19 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2019/20 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2018/19)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Additional costs

The School covers the cost of everything that is an essential part of the programme, this will be clearly detailed in all programme information and in any verbal instructions given by tutors. A financial contribution towards the travel and subsistence costs of the field trip is provided.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

We will provide any equipment that is essential to the course. However, we recommend that you bring a laptop computer with appropriate software (e.g. word processing), USB or a hard drive, general stationary and some basic drawing equipment.

We provide students with student licenses for most of the specialist simulation software we use on the course, however we can currently only guarantee that these work on computers with a Windows operating system.

During the course, you will have access to the specialist Architecture Library, and other University libraries, and study spaces across campus. Within the School, you may work in our design studios, use our computing suites, and use our facilities which include large-format plotters, a digital laser cutter and a well-equipped workshop.

During the course we go on a range of study trips in the UK, Europe, or further afield. On these trips we will organise guided visits to buildings that demonstrate how principles taught in the programme are applied in revolutionary large-scale eco-buildings. You will also have the opportunity to meet architects and built environment professionals who collaborate with the School.

There is currently a worldwide shortage of architects and built environment professionals specialising in the field of planning and designing mega-buildings which perform sustainably. Therefore there is a rising demand for graduates from this type of course.

Typically, graduates from this course will gain employment in large-scale building design or planning companies and practices, environmental design consultancies, research and development centres, or may even set up their own companies/ practices.

Given the current intense public, governmental and professional interest in this area, employment opportunities for graduates who specialise in this field are only likely to grow and become even more attractive both in the UK and globally.

There are many great good practice examples of green buildings in Islington, far too many to include here. Below is a small non-exhaustive selection highlighting the range of projects completed across Islington. Links are provided to websites with further information.

See also this interactive map which shows the locations of many of the buildings listed below along with summary details.

Ashmount Primary School and Bowlers Nursery (Islington Council)

This scheme is a negative carbon development. Energy efficiency was maximised by optimising form, maximising the insulation and the amount of exposed thermal mass and designing for daylight and natural ventilation. To service the remaining energy demand in the lowest carbon manner, the best solution was found to be to host a community energy centre (CHP and biomass) on the school site, designed to provide all the heating and some of the electricity for the site and the existing adjacent residential block, Coleman Mansions. The proposed energy centre will reduce the carbon footprint of the school site by 50%. By supplying heat to Coleman Mansions, the development will actually be carbon negative - that is to say the scheme will save more carbon by providing a more efficient energy supply to Coleman Mansions than is used on the school site. Wider sustainable design features include use of low impact materials and ecological enhancement across the entire site. The project was awarded £500k through the Department for Children, Schools and Families Low and Zero Carbon Schools Exemplars initiative. It is accredited BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ (design stage) and was a BREEAM Awards 2012 Winner. For more information see the downloadable 'Ashmount school' file at the bottom of the page.

Mayville Community Centre (Bere:architects)

The Mayville Community Centre, completed in August 2011, is the first fully certified Passivhaus retrofit community centre in the UK. It is designed to use over 90% less energy than before renovation, dramatically reducing energy bills whilst creating excellent comfort conditions in both summer and winter. Renovation concentrated on a fabric first approach to energy reduction, retaining the existing brick walls and wrapping them, the floors and the roof, in external insulation, installing triple glazed windows to ensure net heat gains even throughout winter, a low-energy heat recovery ventilation unit and a ground source heat pump. A solar PV array and solar thermal panel supply electricity and hot water and rainwater harvesting tanks collect rainwater for WC flushing and garden irrigation. The Mayville project demonstrates how a medium sized Victorian solid masonry building, a common building typology, can be refurbished to achieve energy consumption reductions to exceed current UK building regulation standards, the lesser Passivhaus Enerfit standard (for refurbishment) and even the UK’s 2019 targets for non-domestic buildings. The total cost of the improvements was £1.6m; the project was 100% funded by grant aid and by two generous local benefactors who chose to remain anonymous. For more information see Justin Bere's website

Ironmonger Row Baths (Islington Council)

Extensive refurbishment work on Ironmonger Row Baths, originally constructed in 1931, is currently underway (Spring 2012) to provide an integrated space fit for a 21st century public leisure service. The refurbishment has been designed to maximise energy efficiency, including through the use of: thermal insulation to the internal face of external walls; replacement of single glazing with double/triple glazing; reduced air leakage; natural ventilation to augment mechanical means; maximisation of daylighting; high efficiency lighting throughout; and high efficiency gas condensing boilers. Ironmonger Row Baths will also benefit from heat provided from an off-site combined heat and power (CHP) plant via a district heating system. The scheme was awarded a BREEAM design stage rating of ‘Excellent’ in December 2010. For further details please see the 'Ironmonger Row Baths refurbishment' pdf at the bottom of this page.

24 Britton Street (Archer Architects and Levolux for Great Portland Estates) 

This £3.7m refurbishment project involved the transformation of an existing 40,000 sq ft office building of significant architectural character to create more flexible and comfortable office accommodation whilst improving the environmental performance of the building. Works included the addition of a striking new external solar shading solution (which includes tubular louvres, plus automatic roller blinds at fifth floor level) to significantly reduce solar heat gain and glare whilst maximising daylight levels and providing occupants with good outward visibility. The louvres are finished in an eye-catching and highly durable bright red gloss powder coating, selected following consultation with the council to complement the black and red colour scheme running throughout the building. Also added was a new entrance pavilion, atrium and reception facility and an improved cooling system. The refurbished building has achieved a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating, indicating a big step forward from the original 1970’s design which suffered from extreme problems of overheating during the summer months. The shoe retailer Kurt Geiger has agreed a pre-let of the property as its new headquarters. For images of the building see London Festival of Architecture.

The Ecology Centre, Drayton Park (Islington Council)

This Islington Council building, set within the Gillespie Park Nature Reserve, benefits from onsite wind, biomass and solar thermal renewable energy generation systems allowing it to minimise carbon emissions from its use. Other key features include use of European softwood from sustainable sources, water saving features and recycling of waste water through a reed bed system. The Ecology Centre is used to deliver educational and community events and teach children and adults about local biodiversity and sustainable practices. For more information see the Council's Ecology Centre webpage.

The Muse, Newington Green (Bere:architects)

This is a super-insulated ecological house and architectural office designed and owned by architect Justin Bere. Triple glazing and low energy ventilation with heat recovery, together with very high fabric insulation standards, means very little additional heating is required in winter and, with external blinds, the house remains cool in summer. Other features include solar thermal for hot water, solar PV panels, rainwater recycling, biodiverse green roofs supporting a range of native species including native hawthorn trees, bat boxes, stag beetle sandpits, a thriving bee hive and even a bumble bee sleeping quarter! Designed to be warm in winter and cool in summer whilst using very little energy, the Passivhaus standard is gaining increasing attention in the UK but this scheme was an early pioneer. For more information see Justin Bere's website.

Ropemaker, Ropemaker St (Arup Associates, for British Land)

A development on the edge of the City, Ropemaker is a 20 storey office building providing 593,000 sq ft (55,000m2) of space. Sustainability is central to the building’s design, demonstrating that offices do not have to be energy guzzling glass boxes requiring high levels of air conditioning. A highly visible feature of Ropemaker is the double glazed cladding which is tilted away from the sun’s path to reduce the energy required for cooling by up to 30%. Other features include use of renewable energy technologies - solar thermal panels, solar photovoltaics (PV) and a biomass boiler; a large rainwater harvesting system; green roofs covering 60% of available space; use of recycled materials; and 270 bike racks with lockers and shower facilities. Ropemaker has a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, won the Estates Gazette Green Award for Office Development of the Year. For more information see the Ropemaker Place website.

Highbury Grove school, Highbury New Park (BDP, for Transform Islington)

This school achieved ‘Highly Commended’ in the ‘Most Sustainable School Design’ category of the 2008 ‘Excellence in Building Schools for the Future Awards’. It has also achieved an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM (British Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) sustainable building rating. Low energy consumption and low carbon energy are at the core of the school’s design, which reduces CO2 emissions by twenty per cent (compared to 2006 Building Regulations) using a range of technologies including combined heat and power for highly efficient heat and electricity generation, biodiverse green roofs and solar shading to prevent the sun from excessively heating the building in summer. Water saving devices have been incorporated into the schools' design, including rainwater harvesting from the roof for use in toilet flushing and site irrigation. Pupils can watch digital displays that monitor the energy generated on site. For more information see the two downloadable 'Highbury Grove school' files at the bottom of this page.

Renovated Victorian Eco-home, Aubert Park (United House, for Islington Council)

This ground floor flat in a typical Victorian terrace has been renovated into an eco-home. After detailed survey and analysis, 24 measures for improving the sustainability of the property were selected and each was assessed for its installed cost and for its carbon saving effectiveness. The best measures were found to be installation of low energy lighting throughout, draught proofing of windows, cracks/gaps and chimney, insulation of external walls, and incorporation of a high efficiency boiler. A rainwater harvesting system to flush the WC was also installed, with excess water used to irrigate the garden. United House won the Green Buildings category of the Giant Green Business Awards 2010. For more information see the United House website.

Angel Building (Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, for Derwent London)

The Angel Building, an office and retail scheme, is the re-invention of an unloved early 1980s commercial building. The existing concrete frame of the old building was reused (saving the energy and waste associated with demolition and rebuilding) and re-wrapped with a highly energy efficient glazed skin. Key sustainability features include two biomass boilers which provide 50% of the heating demand, fritted glazing to reduce solar gains, good insulation, a displacement ventilation system, and low energy lifts manufactured from recyclable materials. Secure cycle storage, showers and locker rooms are provided to encourage staff to cycle.  The Angel Building is on target to achieve an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating. It was also shortlisted for Islington’s Giant Green Business Awards 2010. For further information see the Angel Building website.

John Thompson & Partners Office, Great Sutton St (John Thompson & Partners)

This 1920s warehouse was renovated to maximise sustainability within the layout and encourage sustainable practices amongst its staff. The office is retrofitted with photovoltaic panels which double as brise soleil to minimise summer solar gain, solar-thermal panels to pre-heat hot water and innovative phase change materials to absorb daytime temperature gains. These measures are complemented by the use of natural ventilation through high level windows with specially fitted handles and winders and passive stack ventilation through the main staircase as well as the maximisation of the use of natural light. Green materials include natural insulation (e.g. sheep’s wool) and worktops manufactured from recycled plastic sheets derived from yoghurt pots. Secure cycle storage and the provision of showers, lockers and towels encourage staff to cycle to work. Other features include grey water collection in the showers to recycle water for WCs, and water efficient fixtures and fittings.  For more information see John Thompson and Partners’ website.

Nash Terrace, Aubert Park (4orm)

This four storied row of terraced houses, designed to the German Passivhaus standard, includes triple glazing, high levels of insulation with 200mm recycled newsprint to walls, insulation to roofs, whole house ventilation with heat recovery and ground source heat pumps providing heating and hot water. Large windows allow good quality natural lighting during the day and LED low energy light fittings are used throughout the development. Venetian blinds reduce solar gain and along with the ventilation system, summertime overheating is expected to be minimised providing exceptional levels of comfort and climate change proofing. The cost of heating is estimated to be approximately £80 per year - less than the cost of a cappuccino per week. Each house also has rainwater harvesting that feeds WCs and laundry. For more information see this case study on CuttingtheCarbon.

The Gower School, Cynthia St (Architype, for The Gower School)

A suite of derelict buildings was transformed into this Montessori primary school. Its low energy design is built entirely from sustainable materials and enables users to monitor their energy use. Key features include high levels of insulation, light wells and windows carved into the existing structure and a green roof that improves thermal performance, enhances biodiversity and attenuates rainwater run-off. Sustainable materials have been used throughout including a sustainably sourced timber frame structure, recycled wood fibre boards infilled with sheep’s wool insulation, sustainably sourced bamboo floors and organic paints. Existing materials were re-used wherever possible. Other features include spray taps and low energy light fittings. These physical aspects of the building are complemented by activities encouraging environmentally sustainable behaviour amongst staff, students and parents. This building was shortlisted for Islington’s Giant Green Business Awards 2010. For more information see Architype’s website.

Whittington Park Changing Rooms, Whittington Park (Architects Network for Islington Council)

The Whittington Park Changing Rooms are a hub for local activities including sports, the Park Ranger’s office, tea parties for senior citizens and a garden classroom for children. It is a low carbon building and incorporates a number of sustainability features.  Key features include high levels of insulation, use of sustainable timber, a biomass boiler, a green roof, solar thermal panels, a waste hot water heat recovery system, a warm air system with mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) and sun-pipes to maximise the use of natural light. Other features include low energy lighting and water saving devices fitted across the building. A building management system has been installed as part of an overall energy strategy to ensure that different systems in the building are used most efficiently and to minimise running costs.

Hill House Apartments, Pentoville Road (GPAD Ltd for Noble House Properties Ltd)

Hill House Apartments, refurbished under the Ecohomes scheme is a mix of affordable and private housing. Key features include high levels of insulation throughout, a communal biomass boiler which provides 20% of space heating and hot water, the introduction of a new planting area fed by rain water runoff, energy efficient lighting, low air leakage, cycle storage, external drying areas for all flats and recycling facilities. Other features include three units specifically designed for wheelchair users and all other units designed to lifetime homes standards. Throughout the complete design and construction process the architect had taken special care to walk to all design, client and site meetings to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum.

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