VELFAC composite aluminium and wood framed glazing used at Benyon Wharf

VELFAC composite aluminium and wood framed glazing used at Benyon Wharf

Benyon Wharf is located in Hackney, East London, and lies alongside the Kingsland Canal basin, in the Kingsland Conservation Area, an area which includes a number of listed buildings. The site is a former timber yard, under-used for many years, and the challenge was to maximise the site’s value by creating a high-density, mixed use scheme which avoided compromising both quality of build, and privacy for residents.

The result is a stunning development comprising 20,000 square feet of commercial space and 100,000 square feet of purpose-built live / work apartments, grouped in blocks around a private courtyard, with views through to the canal basin and beyond. Each apartment is generously proportioned, and uses a duplex design which incorporates an open mezzanine level overlooking a double height living and dining area. A fully glazed elevation illuminates this space and also provides access to a private balcony or terrace.

A striking feature of Benyon Wharf is the generous use of VELFAC composite aluminium and wood framed glazing. Large windows front each duplex apartment and work unit, and glazing units also feature throughout the building. To balance the expanse of glass, a variety of layering devices were designed to provide both solar shading and privacy, including slatted timber screens and shutters.

The architect. Clearly the quality of glazing was crucial. Architect Sheelagh McManus explained why VELFAC was specified: ‘We were looking for aluminium framed windows that were thermally broken and were capable of incorporating large, uninterrupted panes of glass, and large glass sliding doors. We were particularly attracted by the slim profile and flush external appearance of the VELFAC 200 System; not only did the System meet our design criteria with regard to the size of the opening and glazed areas, but these large areas could also be achieved with minimally intrusive sight lines.

‘Achieving this expanse of glass was particularly important when considering the courtyard and waterfront elevation windows, many of which were two storeys high, with remotely operated, high-level opening vents.

‘Importantly, the System was also affordable. For a composite system, VELFAC glazing is competitively priced especially when compared with quality all-aluminium systems, which we had also considered.’

Four main glazing installations feature in the design:
• Window walling used to front the ground floor office areas which face the Kingsland Road
• Glazed screens installed to front the double-height duplex apartments
• Window walling used as cladding around the glass lift shaft, sited within the courtyard
• Smaller, high level vents installed in areas of timber cladding

Paul Adams, Project Manager for Investland, developers of Benyon Wharf, also underlined the important role VELFAC played in the early stages of the project: ‘During the design phase, the VELFAC designer worked through the drawings and highlighted various structural and architectural issues that we needed to address, such as the windpost and flitch plate requirements. These details could then be incorporated into the design without compromising the overall vision.

The help VELFAC gave both Investland and JCMT Architects was crucial to the success of the project as a whole, providing invaluable feedback on the capabilities of the system, and its constraints, and giving positive suggestions as to how we could achieve what we wanted. As a result, we created a bespoke design, even though we were working within the limits of the system. The windows blend well with the architectural theme of the development, greatly enhancing its visual impact. This, without a doubt, adds to the appeal for any prospective purchaser.’

Approved Installer. Paul was also impressed with the work of C Kew Installations, the VELFAC Approved Installer: ‘We found the installers to be very helpful, and very proactive in solving any installation problems that occurred on site. They carried out their work in a very professional manner, and responded positively to the inevitable sequencing problems that occur.’ A good example of the level of service which is expected of all VELFAC Approved Installers.

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