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The Potter Space Gatehouse & Administration Building aspires to promote a new approach to how commercial buildings must be delivered, if the property sector is to meet the growing challenges posed by an increasingly evident climate emergency.


Designed by DLA Design working in close collaboration with the Ollio Consultancy, Potter Space will become the first new building on the Olympia Park regeneration site in Selby.


Developers, Olympia Park Developments Limited, were keen that the new building should become a pathfinder in net zero energy and sustainable construction and extol the key principles of social, environmental and economic sustainability as a torchbearer for the future development of the wider site.


To achieve this, innovative new methods of design and analysis have been developed, with design development being supported through the deployment of new and extremely powerful Evolutionary Algorithms (EA).  EA deploys powerful computing power to enable engineers to search through literally millions of combinations of possible envelope and building system permutations, contained within the architectural geometry, with the aim of finding those net zero energy outcomes that are the lowest or optimised cost to build.

In developing the energy and sustainability strategy, the narrative begins with the design of the new building’s fabric envelop, followed by the addition of renewable and energy storage technologies. The analysis starts with the benchmark of Passivhaus, as industry recognised best practice, then runs the EA process to see if it can find better more cost-effective solutions that are still zero energy.  For the Potter Admin building, the EA solution optimised insulation levels and airtightness before locating solutions that were similar in energy use to Passivhaus but easier and less complex to build allowing significant savings in cost.


The solution found includes 82 sq. m of south-facing photovoltaics’, which when combined with an optimised fabric and battery store, will maintain the building off national grid for all but 47 hours per year. This means that the building will be net zero energy and will be off national grid for 99.5% of annual hours, far exceeding current statutory requirements. Also, any energy that is taken will happen during periods of night-time off peak tariffs, adding to future payback savings.

Further to optimizing use of energy and daylight the new office will include measures for the conservation of water, prudent low carbon materials selection and the minimisation of transport and waste. A green sedum roof will add to the overall ecological habitat and biodiversity.

The project represents an innovative demonstrator for how buildings of the future need to be delivered through cross-disciplinary practice. It provides compelling evidence that the technology and the business case now exist for this to become the norm as the world enters a declared “climate emergency”.



Client : DLA Design

Construction Value: undisclosed

Date: September 2019

Floor Area: 400m2


  • Mixed Mode Displacement Ventilation

  • Near Zero Energy strategy

  • PV Panels integration

  • ASHP Heat Pump

  • Battery store integration

  • Office and vehicle smart energy monitoring

  • Rainwater recovery

Potter Model.png

Visualisation of EA thermal model.


potter ea.jpg

Office Energy Consumption

EA Pareto Front of EA Strong Solutions (Each dot represents one modelled solution


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