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Sealoft Studio/ House, Kinghorn

Sealoft Studio/ House, Kinghorn

Conversion of 1930's cinema to artist studio and home.


EDAS was approached by John Hope Architects on behalf of Scottish Artists Elizabeth Ogilvie and Robert Callendar, to advise on solar heating for the conversion of a redundant 1930's cinema into a house with a large central studio.

The building sits on an exposed sunny promontory on the north shore of the Firth of Forth above Kinghorn Harbour, at a latitude of approximately 56°N. The clients were not concerned about gaining natural north light but they were keen to open up the interior to the south and east, achieving as much daylight and direct solar gain into all the rooms as possible, as well as taking advantage of the spectacular panorama over the sea.


The existing structure and construction of the auditorium consisted of steel columns at approximately 4 metre centres, supporting steel trusses clad with red asbestos sheeting. The walls were built of 100mm x 50mm studding at 450mm centres covered in 'chicken wire' harled with around 32mm of cement render.

The floor was timber on joists. A large projection screen had been built within the east gable above a stage over the boiler house. There was a similar stage to the west end which had been converted into a coffee bar. As part of a previous refurbishment, the former projection rooms had been converted into a flat.

The clients' brief required that a large volume and floor area should be retained in the auditorium as a working studio space, utilising natural light. New living accommodation would be incorporated in a new flat in the east gable.

EDAS advised on the proposed construction within the steel frame as well as the potential of heating by solar gain through the south facing windows into the studio and living quarters. All the external walls of the auditorium were rebuilt and the ground floor and mono-pitch roof renewed.

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On advice from EDAS and external consultants, BAeSema, the south facing glazing was used for direct solar gain rather than as a conservatory space. High mass construction was employed in the south and east facade cavity wall construction with lightweight timber frame walls on the north to help avoid discomfort problems due to 'down draughts' and cold radiative effects in the large studio space. Walls were highly insulated with 100mm mineral wool and the roof was insulated with 200mm mineral wool, giving U-values of 0.27 and 0.18 W/m2K respectively.

A preliminary calculation was carried out for the studiousing the CIBSE Code. It was predicted that thecombined effect of all of the measures adopted could result in an energy consumption of around 36,000 kWh.This represents a potential saving of around 1 0,000kWh compared with a building built to the minimum Building Regulation requirements.


The building is now complete, and the clients enjoy the comfort of working in their huge, solar heated studio. The main living area was provided with gas central heating, however the direct solar heating has proved more than adequate to heat the studio/workspace for most of the occupied period. According to the clients, energy savings have been even greater than predicted.

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