ExCel London ensures a warm welcome for visitors with the installation of Zehnder radiant heating panels

ExCel London ensures a warm welcome for visitors with the installation of Zehnder radiant heating panels

Built by Sir Robert McAlpine and opened in 2000, ExCeL London hosts events, ceremonies, exhibitions and conferences to both national and international audiences from all sectors of trade, industry and life. A key venue for the capital, ExCeL London welcomes thousands of visitors each and every month and played an important role in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The exhibition building itself comprises two column-free, rectangular, sub-dividable halls on either side of a central boulevard. Housing catering facilities and information points the boulevard has glass door entrances on both the east and west sides, and is the central walkway in and out of the building, and between the two halls.

Whilst convection heating was installed within the exhibition halls during its initial construction, no heating provision was specified in the boulevard area. Consequently it remained unheated until it was fitted with Zehnder ZBN radiant heating panels in January 2013. Brian Cole, Operations Director at ExCeL London explains, “With no heating within the boulevard area we were finding the opening and closing of the doors during the winter months was significantly affecting the internal temperature and not providing a welcoming and comfortable environment for visitors as they entered the centre. Therefore we wanted to enhance our visitor experience by installing a heating system to ensure a pleasant indoor climate throughout the venue.”

After researching the market as to the different heating technologies available Brian contacted Zehnder with a view to assessing radiant technology as an effective solution. During a demonstration at the Zehnder Head Offices in Germany, the temperature of the walls and floor within a radiant heated area were measured when external doors were both open and closed. Thanks to the quick response time of the panels, and their ability to directly heat the objects and surfaces within a room, the heating effect was instantaneous as soon as the cold draught was eliminated. This enabled the internal temperature of the walls and floor to return to their previous levels after just 15 seconds. By following the same principle as the sun and heating the fabric of the building, the radiant panels are able to quickly change the environment and ensure an immediate result.

At 600 m long and 16 m wide, with a varying ceiling height of 7 to 13 m, the boulevard area at ExCeL London is a substantial space to heat. However following the results of the demonstration, whereby radiant technology showed that it heats the surfaces and objects within the building, as oppose to the actual air inside, it was decided to only heat the first 60 m of the boulevard area to achieve the desired results. Fitted in strips throughout Levels 0 and 1 of the East Entrance, the panels are able to successfully counter the cold external air entering the building and ensure a warm welcome for visitors.

In addition to the effective heating the Zehnder ZBN also fits the character of the building adds Brian, “Suspended from the ceiling and finished in a RAL 9006 white aluminium coating, the Zehnder ZBN panels add to the industrial feel of the centre. Combining an inconspicuous heating source with a discreet aesthetic they blend in seamlessly with the steel work of the building construction, meeting all of our requirements”.

Finally commenting on the overall performance Brian concludes; “The installation of the panels is world class, and with visitors from the east side now benefitting from the additional heat, plans are already in place to replicate the panel configuration on the west side and ensure a comfortable indoor climate for all”.

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