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RCI January 2018

CLADDING & SHEETING PROJECT FOCUS It’s a pass for Uni upgrade 032 JANUARY 2018 RCIMAG.COM RCI takes a look at an interesting refurbishment and extension project In today’s competitive higher education sector, the facilities and environment offered by a university’s student union is more important than ever. At the University of Manchester, the large student union is located in a prominent main road position at the heart of the city centre campus. Since it was first constructed in the 1950s when the university had just 4,000 students, the building has always been more than the traditional bar and social hub, containing multiple entertainment venues and student services too. To enhance its facilities for 21st century students, the University is investing in an ambitious ‘Future Union’ refurbishment and extension of the building, as part of its £1 billion campus improvement programme. The scheme is designed to provide additional floor space, enhance the visual impact of the building and extend its service life. The project includes two extensions constructed as infills to the rear courtyards. To ensure that these façades complement the original building’s Portland Stone frontage and answer demands of a core university facility in such a key location, Shackerley’s SureClad ceramic granite ventilated cladding system has been specified in a creamy beige colourway with a natural, stone-like finish. The design concept was to create a contemporary representation of the existing building, simplifying the existing elevations with a limited palette of materials that respect the materiality of the legacy building. Quality & durability Designed by architect Wilson Mason, following an extensive stakeholder research programme, the Future Union project aims to deliver more performance and rehearsal spaces, including a purpose-built theatre, along with more meeting rooms and flexible meeting spaces to accommodate the University’s 450+ groups and societies. There will also be more designated student areas, a wider range of catering outlets, additional storage space and upgrades to all toilet facilities. Delivered by main contractor, Willmott Dixon, the project has been designed in three main phases, beginning with the extensions to the building, to enable the existing Students’ Union to remain operational throughout the programme. The project architect at Wilson Mason explained: “Internally, the brief involves remodelling the space to improve the layout, maximise the footprint of the building and accommodate a wider variety of facilities. “The front of the building will be upgraded and retain its commanding presence and distinctive Portland Stone aesthetic, with new windows and cleaning of the façade. Meanwhile, the new build extensions utilising infill opportunities to the side and rear of the building will add an additional 1000m² of space, some of which will be used for retail units and lettable space, providing additional revenue streams for the Students’ Union.” The project began with construction of the new “The fact that we could specify the same material for two very different applications from a single supplier demonstrates the flexibility of the material and the willingness of Shackerley to meet the demands of the project, even when there are complex design requirements involved” extensions in 2016 and, while completion of the project is not expected until summer 2018, the external envelope has now been completed, enabling some facilities to be decanted into new areas of the building while refurbishment of the existing accommodation continues. In addition to incorporating the views of more than 1,000 students into the design principles for the project following a lengthy consultation process, Wilson Mason also factored the University’s requirements into the specification criteria for the scheme. The architect continued: “The student union is an iconic building on campus and is in a key location close to the University’s Grade II listed Old Quadrangle and Whitworth Art Gallery buildings on Oxford Road. As a result, both a high quality appearance and high performance materials were key elements of the design brief from the University. “The SureClad ceramic granite ventilated façade system from Shackerley answered those quality requirements in terms of both aesthetics and performance. As an impermeable material, it will resist both discolouration from pollutants and graffiti damage. Moreover, the wide choice of colourways and finishes offered by Shackerley meant we were able to specify a Portland stone colour with a natural finish that ensures a strong visual connection between the new elevations and the original building frontage.” Can-do flexibility Due to the prominent location of the building and its cultural importance, the plans for the student union had to meet with strict planning considerations and Shackerley provided samples of the SureClad ceramic granite panels to help the architect overcome planning queries and secure consent. These large-scale samples were temporarily fixed to the existing building’s external brickwork to clearly demonstrate the aesthetics and quality of the proposed system in situ. Following planning consent and completion of the detailed design, Shackerley worked to accurate plans to produce SureClad panels to the project’s bespoke requirements. Explains Adrian Cowell from the project’s cladding installer, Task Contract Services Ltd: “While the majority of the SureClad panels were provided in the standard 1198 x 598 format, some of the panels had to be cut to different sizes to accommodate the specific layout of the elevations. The project also involved some bespoke design and prefabrication by Shackerley to provide sections needed for the intersections with windows and abutment to the existing brickwork. “Not only did Shackerley expertly pre-fabricate every panel in their ISO 9001 accredited production facility to meet the project requirements and deliver the installation-ready panels to site,” Adrian continued, “they also responded promptly when the original plans did not accurately meet site conditions, helping us to keep the installation on track.” Shackerley prefabricated a total of 476 SureClad panels and 366 reveals at the company’s production facility in Lancashire, supplying the installation-ready panels to site with fixing straps securely anchored to their rear for installation using Shackerley’s Queen’s Award winning SureClad Access System. Adrian continued: “The SureClad Access System enables non-sequential installation of the Images show University of Manchester which has invested in an ambitious ‘Future Union’ refurbishment and extension of the building, as part of its £1 billion campus improvement programme


RCI January 2018
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