Georgian Spa rises to new challenges using GF Pipe System

A Grade 1 listed spa dating from the 1780s has undergone extensive restoration and reconstruction to create a new leisure complex, fit to meet multiple commercial, technical and environmental challenges, with the building services specialist involved making use of two tried and tested systems from the range of GF Piping Systems.   The old Buxton Crescent Hotel in the Derbyshire spa town had stood empty and neglected for years before the present project – supported by the council, heritage funding and other bodies – got under way with Vinci Construction as the main contractor and Archer Humphreys Architects leading the design team.  IMTECH Engineering Services is the nationally renowned M&E contractor undertaking all of the HEVAC installation work. This multi-faceted work includes heating, hot & cold water services and air conditioning for the 81 bedrooms and 21 treatment rooms within the five-star spa complex, as well as the harvesting of heat energy from the natural thermal springs which run beneath the crescent, to feed a ground source heat pump. The Site’s Mechanical Engineer for IMTECH Engineering Service commented: “As the main M&E contractor we are responding to the design guidance provided by B3 Consultants: covering everything in terms of building services beyond the swimming pools themselves and while we opted to use Georg Fischer’s PVC-C and INSTAFLEX systems, the specification had to be approved through a full technical evaluation by the project team.  “One of the main challenges we had to address was the fact that the main service corridor follows the pronounced curve of the crescent itself and Instaflex appeared ideal as it would bend easily to match it. There was also a particular need to avoid contamination, where heat is taken from the water which Nestle extracts from beneath the building – with the PVC-C in 110-160mm sizes being installed between there and the heat pump and then on to the buffer vessels which provide all the domestic hot water. We then return the spring water to Nestle at a lower temperature, reducing the load on their chillers.’

“Additionally, although we are quite familiar with electro-fusion jointing, we called on Georg Fischer to deliver training and toolbox talks for our operatives and to provide regular site reports, confirming we were carrying out the installation correctly.  Georg Fischer has given us good support, while the choice of plastic pipework offers a life of 50 years upwards.”

The Instaflex is run throughout the service corridor in sizes from 16mm up to 108 mm, carrying all the hot and cold water, boosted water and the heating system’s primary circuits. While IMTECH originally considered making use of the GFPS prefabrication service, the contractor opted for the site fusion process due to the need to accommodate design refinements during an historic refurbishment scheme that has continued to turn up hidden technical issues.  Produced from polybutene, INSTAFLEX is highly resistant to corrosion and chemical attack, making it an ideal specification for both commercial and potable water services applications.  The system not only offers a long, low maintenance life and high performance characteristics, but is also flexible in use, as in the case of the Buxton Crescent project, taking it from the basement plant areas to the outlets. Instaflex includes a full selection of pipe diameters as well as different jointing methods and fittings. The PVC-C product range in turn offers a comprehensive choice of couplings, valves and other accessories, applicable to industrial and commercial applications, including where high pressure and the avoidance of contamination are paramount.  Also involving the refurbishment of the adjacent Old Hall Hotel, half a dozen former lodging houses and The Assembly Rooms, the scope of the Buxton Spa scheme includes construction of a new swimming pool above an existing basement and the conversion of The Old Pump Room part of Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust and is the starting point for the Buxton Crescent’s visitor experience.

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