One college, two campuses and architectural aluminium systems from Technal specified across both.
This jointly procured contract for the National College for Advanced Transport & Infrastructure features Technal curtain walling, windows and doors, delivering a co-ordinated design approach and real visual interest at two, architecturally very different, world-class training facilities in Birmingham and Doncaster.
Collaboration was the theme of the building’s design, which also followed through to the working relationship of the different teams involved in its construction. A BIM Level 2 project both campuses were designed by Bond Bryan Architects.
Built simultaneously, in an impressive 15-month construction period, by main contractor Willmott Dixon, Technal was involved at an early stage, working across the two sites as part of a co-ordinated supply chain to achieve the desired specification.
Working on the Doncaster campus, Bond Bryan Associate Mark Dobbs, explains: “The design brief and overall priority was to create buildings that generate a revived sense of excitement around the rail industry to attract the next generation of engineers.”
“However, as a BREEAM Excellent project, the design team’s collaborative approach to sustainability was enhanced with the team looking wherever possible to exceed mandatory building regulation requirements.”
“The main objectives from an architectural glazing perspective were to exceed Building Regs Part L for efficiency of glazing with confirmed air permeability targets of 5m3/(h.m2). Maximising daylighting, through the facade design and use of rooflights, lightwells and atria, was also a priority as well as minimising summer cooling requirements with the use of solar control glazing and adoption of natural ventilation where possible.”
Completely different architecturally, each campus has been designed individually to reflect the heritage of its respective locality.
Saw-tooth glazed facade defines multi-award winning Doncaster campus
The 7,600m2, three-storey landmark Doncaster campus has been inspired by the city’s former train sheds - large industrial Victorian buildings that featured lots of exposed metal work and grand volumes of space.
Featuring up to 2,500m2 of Technal architectural aluminium systems finished in an Anthracite Grey powder coating (RAL 7016), the glazing scheme has been designed and manufactured by fabricator Dortech, installed by the team both externally and internally.
Following the outline of a traditional saw-tooth, the roofline forms the building’s defining architectural feature with Dortech and Technal working closely to ensure the interface between the curtain walling structure and the cladding was watertight.
The front and rear screens, both 700m2, feature dual raked head curtain walling manufactured using Technal’s MX52 toggle glazed, capless, structural curtain wall system cut at an angle to both sides to create the impressive saw tooth effect.
Illuminating the spacious 1,900m2 engineering workshop area, which houses two train tracks with maintenance pits, complete with lighting and power for train engine maintenance and repair, the curtain wall is recessed behind the cladding and brise soleil.
Each facade’s flush appearance is maintained with the introduction of structurally bonded frameless top hung opening vents, which include automatic actuators that link in to the building’s management system (BMS). Adding to the facade design, insulated non-vision glass ceramic panels have been inserted, not just for visual interest but also with the dual function of concealing the M&E services behind.
Internally, Technal MX52 capped curtain walling has been used to create large internal glazed screens that assist further with natural daylighting and allow light to flood through the building.
Constructed using Saint Gobain COOL-LITE Glass SKN 154 – a high performance neutral glass – the majority of panels, spanning up to 2.8m high x 1m wide and weighing up to 150kg, were mechanically lifted into place using either mobile elevation platforms or, for the larger units, mobile cranes.
Installation was undertaken over a six-month duration. The team worked to a planned project delivery programme, coordinated with main contractor Willmott Dixon using innovative project management software, as Dortech Managing Director, James Sutherland explains: “Improving our working processes constantly, a BIM approach is integral here at Dortech. We use Viewpoint Field View - a cloud-based mobile application that allows the team to link in to the BIM model remotely. We are able to capture, share and report data in the field, meaning any issues are resolved quickly, mitigating risk, and enabling us to deliver a higher quality project.”
Throughout the building, Technal’s PY 55 thermally broken pivot doors have also been installed featuring a standard jamb and header bar as well as anti finger trap stiles for safety. The PY 55 is specifically developed for areas of heavy use like this college environment.
Other systems were considered but Dortech’s James Sutherland, explains why Technal was specified, he said: “After evaluating various systems available, Technal’s proved to be the highest quality and most appropriate for the scheme. This year is our 25th year in business and Technal is one of our more long-standing system partners – the expertise and valued support offered by the Technal team is outstanding.”
Aluminium and bronze cladding tribute nods to city’s industrial heritage
The Birmingham site, previously home to a large metal works foundry – specialising in the production of bronze and brass extrusions – and set in what was for centuries a glass-making heartland, predominantly features these two materials externally. The glazing and extruded bronze cladding form a simple, elegant industrial workplace design.
Designed as a three-storey, 5,700 m2 building, the campus provides a ‘shop window’ with a vibrant double-height entrance facade, created using Technal's MX Grid Curtain Wall, to provide a public-facing café, encouraging prospective students to discover more about the opportunities the college offers and re-engaging interested members of the wider community with Birmingham’s connection to trains and rail travel.
Commenting on the use of the Technal systems, Mike Stockley, estimator at Elite Aluminium Systems Ltd said: “From a fabrication point of view, Technal curtain walling is a good system to work with regarding preparation of mullions and transoms. Our site teams comment on how straight forward installation is. Once installed, we rarely get called back to site to rectify any issues like leaks.”
Door opening widths were increased to wider than standard Mike Stockley explains: “To accommodate the wider door widths, we used heavy duty Wicona WICSTYLE 65 Evo door stiles and furniture. Wicona is a specialist part of Technal and the systems proves to be a good long-term solution when larger doors are needed.”
The projecting second floor creates a canopy, which returns forming a pedestrian gateway through the site, features Technal MX curtain walling with a striking glass-to-glass corner over the main entrance.
Same height slim vertical glazed panels then punctuate the bronze cladding forming fixed panes to create daylighting internally.
The Birmingham Campus is specifically geared towards delivering the college’s digital curriculum, so the idea of expressing the lines and dots of digital binary codes formed a key part of the elevational treatment from day one.
Bond Bryan Chartered Architectural Technologist Paul Shaw, worked on the Birmingham campus and explains more: “Perforated cladding panels and linear fins, which wrap around the building, capture this ‘digital’ character but also reference some of the more historical parts of rail heritage. The repetition, rhythm and proportion of tracks and railway sleepers feature heavily in the vertical shading fins which enclose the building.
“To the side of the building, Technal's FY65 windows sit in a ribbon configuration behind the vertical shading fins - creating ever-changing layers of light and shadow around the building – such that the facade always appears to be in “a state of motion”. Elite fitted the windows into pre-formed openings within the cladding, fixing back to cladding rails as required.”
Across the building, Technal’s aluminium systems were finished in a grey (Syntha Pulvin: Zircon XDKB 025) and dark silver (RAL9007) colour.
Technal is part of the Hydro Group, a world leader in aluminium solutions that also encompasses sister brand Wicona. Through its globally renowned Hydro Technology Hubs, the group is shaping a sustainable future, with innovative products that satisfy and surpass customer expectations, in line with demands of CSR and increasing environmental regulations.
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