Award for the first air-conditioned building in the UK
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital has been presented with a prestigious Engineering Heritage Award by the UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which recognises its engineering importance as the first public building in the UK to be air-conditioned.
Opened in 1903, the Royal Victoria Hospital’s plenum air conditioning system is seen as a milestone in the history of environmental engineering, cleaning the air and controlling both temperature and humidity in the hospital for the comfort of staff and patients.
The building and its ventilation systems were conceived as an integrated design, the main duct being a brick tunnel with a concrete floor over 150m long and 2.8m wide, 6m deep at the input end tapering upwards to only 1.8m deep at the downstream end. It provided 10-12 air changes per hour in summer and 7-8 changes in winter.
Two large steam-driven fans (see picture) drew in outside air and passed it through screens of wetted coir matting to provide washing, humidification and cooling.
A sprinkler system, used to moisten the filters through which the fresh air passed, was regulated on the basis of regular readings of wet and dry-bulb temperatures. This conscious control of humidity gave the Royal Victoria Hospital a place among pioneer air conditioning systems.
The plant rooms, including the working steam engines and the supply fans, are still operable.
To see more pictures, please follow the links below.