Three Tower Blocks, West Bromich

Three Tower Blocks, West Bromich

Client: Sandwell Decent Homes Partnership
Architect: BM3/Sandwell MBC Urban Design
Contractor: Connaught Partnerships
Type of works: supply and installation of windows and doors from Rationel.

Built in the 1960s to a Wates Construction design, the tower blocks are being refurbished by Connaught Partnerships in conjunction with the Sandwell Decent Homes Partnership. The work will greatly enhance the comfort levels of the tenants, and help drastically reduce fuel consumption in each of the apartments.

The windows are just one part of the work, which also includes over-cladding of the existing facade with an insulated render system, and strengthening of the existing cavity walling.

Birmingham-based BM3, in conjunction with Sandwell MBC Urban Design, had already specified aluminium timber composite windows to include a tilt/turn facility which would enable people to clean or replace glazing from inside the flats and have a single lever opening operation to assist the elderly or partial disabled person. Rationel windows were selected following competitive pricing at tender stage via the main contractor. This resulted in each of the 118 flats getting four new tilt-and-turn Rationel windows. They were taken from the Aldus® range which makes use of Northern European coniferous timber taken from well-managed forests, along with an external aluminium cladding for durability.

The cladding – which is fixed to the timber sections using a synthetic clip to ensure there is no direct contact with the timber – greatly extends the maintenance cycles of the external face of the windows. This is particularly advantageous with high-rise buildings. Internally, the windows have a lacquer finish to show-off the beauty of wood.

Another important factor in the specification was security, and Rationel was able to satisfy this demand with Secured by Design accreditation. All windows and doors on the ground floors of the three blocks have been made to Secured by Design standards. Having undergone independent accreditation, Rationel has won the right to use the Secured by Design logo on all of its windows and doors for use at ground floor level. This is in addition to the BS7950 and PAS24 accreditation the product range already enjoys.

Thanks to its Scandinavian background, Rationel has long been aware of the importance of sustainability in window and door manufacture, and the need for high insulation values. Northern European coniferous timber are used in the manufacture of the windows and doors, with the timber being taken from well-managed forests. At least one new tree is planted for every one felled. This timber offers extremely high levels of durability and dimensional stability.

The double-glazed sealed units bring comfort to the home while ensuring fuel bills are reduced, and the stains and paints that can be factory-applied to enhance the durability. Indeed, all stains and paints are water-based – bringing further benefits to the environment. All stages of the manufacture are tightly enforced. Computer-control of every aspect of the process ensures low wastage of raw materials and efficient use of energy. Optimisation software keeps timber wastage to an absolute minimum and all waste timber is recycled.

Rationel’s positive approach to sustainability is further evident in the company being awarded the International Chain-of-Custody Standard by the PEFC Council. This standard tracks wood flows from certified forests to final consumers, and can be used by all forest certification systems worldwide to verify the origin of procured material.

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