Environmental Information Exchange

Volunteer project: improving art studios

EiE volunteers assist OVADA with a picture of good environmental practice for artists.


OVADA is the Visual Arts Development Agency for Oxford and Oxfordshire. In 2012 they moved into a semi-industrial warehouse with brick walls and a corrugated roof in the centre of Oxford. They planned to build artist studios which artists can access anytime of the day or night. The building has been used for storage and deliveries, so large areas were not heated and little insulation had been installed.  The challenge was to produce studios that met artists’ needs but considered the overall energy use of OVADA’s space.


OVADA applied for funding from the Arts Council to upgrade the space and install 4 artist studios.  They were successful and began mustering volunteers for the building project. EiE provided advice on insulation and energy use considerations as the project got underway.

Instead of insulating the whole building each new studio inside the ‘outer shell’ was fitted with insulation individually; rigid insulation boards were built into the partition walls and a transparent cover was added to the top of each cubical studio to retain heat without blocking natural light coming in through the building’s windows. This way insulation has just been provided to the areas used by artists.  This means, outside of special events, OVADA does not waste energy in heating large communal spaces that may or may not in use.

Each studio is fitted with plug sockets that are on their own submeter that measures how much electricity is used in each studio.

Similarly heating has just been installed inside each of the studios whilst the entrance area outside of the studios has been left as a cold space to avoid heating unused space. In order accommodate different energy needs of artists each studio has been equipped with its own energy sub-meter. Artists are charged for the exact amount of energy they use.  Sub-meters provide incentives for artists to be responsible for their own heating and other electricity use, increasing a sense of ownership.


The project has been a success and all 4 studios are now in use. For more information on OVADA and for more photos from the redevelopment please see http://www.ovada.org.uk/studios/

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