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Building Products March 2018

EDUCATION The University of Northampton’s Energy Centre features a 26m flue shaft on its new £6.9m biomass plant COMPARE AND CONTRAST Simon Gregory, sales manager at Proteus Facades, looks at how compartmentalising a facade through the use of contrasting rainscreen cladding materials, finishes and colours, helps architects create visually pleasing buildings that add to our architectural landscape. Contrasting materials The juxtaposition between the perforated panels specified for the Energy Centre’s flue stack and the solid cladding panels used to create the unusual vertical saw-tooth facade design on the main building, completely transformed the aesthetics of the development. They allowed what would have been a large and somewhat unappealing ‘squarebox’ of a building – needed to house a 1MW biomass boiler, four 4MW gas boilers and a 120m³ thermal store – to blend in with its surroundings and become a subtle, design-led structure. Wrapping the 26m flue stack in perforated aluminium panels created a sense of weightlessness in what would, at the height of three London buses, have been quite an imposing structure. The back-lit random perforations now appear as though they are pixels being projected outwards from the 12m LED screen, while the elongated landscape perforated panels play with the eye to visually truncate the stack’s overall height. MARCH 2018 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 65 Innovation in cladding materials over the last decade has resulted in rainscreen facades developing from simply being an outer shell that protects a building’s contents, into one where it has the ability to define the style and form of an entire project. As such, modern rainscreen cladding systems have evolved to a stage where they now provide architects and designers with the freedom to create modern structures that can either standout or subtly blend-in with the surrounding landscape. More often than not, the facade will be designed to create an eye-catching building that grabs the observer’s attention. However, there are times when architects will design a facade with the purpose of ensuring that the building is a more discreet, toned-down structure to reduce its overall visual mass. Take the Energy Centre, based at The University of Northampton’s Riverside Campus for example (pictured above and right). A striking new facade on the £6.9m biomass plant in the form of a 26m flue shaft, is complete with perforated cladding panels around an integrated LED screen and solid cladding panels on the main building below. Cladding a building with perforated panels offers a number of unique benefits. The most obvious, but often overlooked, is that the facade weighs less. In fact, perforated cladding can be up to half the weight of solid panels, simply because there is less material. A lighter facade also means that savings can be made in other areas, such as heavy, masonry-based supporting elements, creating a more sustainable build that also has larger, naturally lit interiors. Continued on page 66 >>>


Building Products March 2018
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