Modular Eco-building Finds New Historic Home

Offsite construction company, Green Unit, has installed a 109sq m eco-build at the site of the Roman Vindolanda fort in Northumberland. Green Unit’s entire offsite build process for the stunning, low carbon, modular ARC II building took just a few months. Once virtually complete in early March 2020, the building was transported 300 miles from Green Unit’s Oxfordshire factory to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in five road-transportable sections. The building was installed onsite at Vindolanda in just six days. 

The building will be used as a multi-purpose space, with an enclosed site office at one end, whilst the rest of the building houses a large open plan space for archaeology work where staff and excavation volunteers will be able to wash, review and catalogue Roman artefacts. 

At the core of Green Unit’s low carbon buildings is their unique and distinctive modular design, but the archaeology centre has been built bespoke to the Vindolanda Trust’s requirements. The eco-building includes a mechanical heat ventilation recovery system: underfloor heating that will be powered by the Vindolanda site’s solar power, custom-built shelving to fit within the building’s curved walls as well as storage, kitchenette and washing units. 

Dr Andrey Birley, CEO and Director of Excavations for the Vindolanda Trust, said: “We’re delighted with our new Archaeology Centre from Green Unit. The building is quite simply spectacular and is perfectly at home within Vindolanda’s natural landscape. As a World Heritage Site, sustainability is incredibly important to the Vindolanda Trust, and we felt that there was a great fit with The ARC’s ethos.

“The minimal impact of an offsite build was very attractive too, especially in terms of the relative lack of disruption to day-to-day operations at our Vindolanda site which is normally open 364 days a year. The team at Green Unit did an excellent job in keeping us informed about the progress of the build with weekly updates, often with photos and video of the construction. It was an exciting day when the building was finally delivered to site in early March.”

Jonathan Finnerty, Managing Director of Green Unit, said: “On behalf of everyone at Green Unit I wanted to say what a privilege it’s been to work on the new Robin Birley Archaeology Centre for the Vindolanda Trust. This is the first ARC II building that Green Unit has delivered and the whole project has been a real triumph. The building looks idyllic within the Vindolanda landscape.”

The ARC building has a unique curved design, which mimics organic forms found in nature. With its commitment to use sustainable materials it has a very low embodied carbon and has a high energy operational efficiency due to its high levels of insulation and airtightness. The ARC also has an attractive external cladding which is made from locally grown timber.

More information about Green Unit’s build process and a time-lapse video for the Vindolanda ARC II build is available at: www.greenunit.co.uk/news/vindolanda-time-lapse


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