Shires House, Guiseley, Leeds

Mark Sidding, Architect

I was born in Lichfield and attended Friary Grange School. I was always aware of architecture – who could fail to be moved by Lichfield Cathedral’s wonderful spires towering over the city? However it was a Design Technology project at school which really fired my enthusiasm to become an architect. Our teacher was a quiet gentle person, not really charismatic, and in fact I can’t even remember his name, but the project he gave us to remodel our own houses was inspirational. I came away from that with my guiding principle as an architect – to inform space in a way which makes people feel differently.

I studied architecture at Huddersfield, and. I joined Watson Batty immediately afterwards. I now lead a team specialising in school and university buildings. My most significant building to date is the Harold Wilson Building at Bradford University, but the one I have chosen as my place is our own new office at Guiseley, because it most exemplifies our approach to sustainable development.

Although, as you can see, there is a lot of glass, it is all orientated northwards, like an art school studio, so that the interior receives the maximum natural light with the minimum solar gain. On the South side there are thick walls with little fenestration which provide thermal mass and natural heating. There is also a passive ventilation system which draws cool air in at the base and exhausts excess warm air at roof level, keeping the offices comfortable without the need for air conditioning.

Finally there are ground source heat pumps to provide heating, and hot water. Our geothermal system penetrates some 45 metres into the ground, extracts heat and then converts it to either a higher or lower temperature depending on whether heating or cooling is required. This renewable energy source, with an expected life span of approximately 40 years, is anticipated to help Watson Batty make carbon savings in the order of 30-35%.

My Place is a section where people share places that are significant in their livesIf you would like to take part in My Place, simply email your photo and a text of up to 250 words to johnbrucemullin@hotmail.com.