Daylight and natural ventilation solutions support reimagined Victorian prison


Velux Glazing Panels from Velux Commercial play a key role in an ambitious project to transform Bodmin Jail into a boutique hotel.

All that was left of the powerful looking Victorian Bodmin Jail in Cornwall was a ruin without a roof, slowly taken over by vegetation. In 2015, Mallino Development appointed the services of Twelve Architects to undertake an impressive and stunning redevelopment to turn the jail into a luxury boutique hotel. It took 214 VELUX Glazing Panels, formerly known as Vitral A98 Glazing, to recapture the feel of the original roof lighting that sat above the two historic wings and deliver the modern comforts hotel guests expect.

The building is a classic example of Victorian prisons. A tall chimney, or tower, connects the two wings with the central atrium, forming a crucial part of the historic ventilation system. The architect wanted to retain the feeling of space and light within the building and preserve as many historical features as possible. A large new rooflight area was introduced to ensure clarity of intervention between old and new.

Set within the new slate roof, the rooflights needed to be thermally efficient. Opening units were required to provide summer comfort ventilation and fulfil the necessary smoke clearance and fire strategy with smoke ventilation. The rooflights also had to resemble the original historic roof windows with thin glazing bars to satisfy the planning requirements and fit within the clear lines of the new design.

VELUX Glazing Panels by VELUX Commercial were the only solution capable of delivering all requirements. Hannah Baker, lead architect at Twelve Architects, explains: “The specified product allowed us to maintain the light and views up to the historic ventilation tower, capturing the atmosphere we were after.”


The complex Grade II restoration benefits from the flexibility of daylight and ventilation systems from VELUX Commercial
The continuous, 40-degree dual-pitch rooflight system included a hip-end sloping towards the apex of the side facing away from the ventilation tower. This required custom sized glazing panels of various shapes, from traditional rectangular to more unusual triangles. The modular nature of VELUX Glazing Panels afforded simpler installation with fewer operatives, reducing time on-site and capital costs.

The slim frames and shallow profiles of VELUX Glazing Panels resemble the thin glazing bars of Victorian windows. The opening mechanism and motors are embedded in the frame, concealed from sight. This is ideal in historical projects where planning and conservation restrictions are likely to limit the application of thicker glazing frames or more visible operating mechanisms.

The original ventilation in the jail consisted of basement intakes, with boilers warming the air up, which travelled through the structure by convection, an advanced system for the time. The new ventilation system was initially designed as mechanical ventilation and natural airflow through the rooflights. However, the beautiful clean lines of the slate roof were disrupted by the protruding vents, and the mechanical aspect was abandoned.

The ventilation module within every four roof panels of the VELUX Glazing Panel solution provided natural ventilation sufficient for the necessary fire and smoke clearance building strategy. The hotel guests can benefit from comfort ventilation during warmer months, and the energy demand of the building is also reduced.

VELUX Commercial rooflights create a healthy and welcoming atmosphere at Bodmin Jail Hotel
The financial outcomes of any leisure operation are impacted by the provision for occupant comfort and energy efficiency. Daylight and fresh air are free resources with considerable benefits to both guests and employees, and the value of daylight in buildings is reflected in BS EN 17037 (2018).

Newly built projects can be focused on maximising available daylight. This task is more challenging in restoration projects but worth undertaking. Hotel News Resource quotes: “Good daylighting design could save up to 75 per cent of the energy used for electric lighting in a hotel building.”

The origin of the building as a jail limited the amount of daylight in the cells. The rooms in the new Bodmin Hotel were created by combining three original prison cells to achieve a better balance of light and space. Communal spaces needed to be well lit and ventilated throughout the day. The original Victorian set up of a large atrium with walkways to access the cells allowed to borrow daylight from above using VELUX Glazing Panels. The effective natural ventilation provides ample fresh are in the communal area.


Source: Architecture Today

Autor: Architectura Today

Photos: Unknown

Video: VELUX Commercial

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