SureClad creates union between old and new at university

Public Sector Tue, Feb 13, 2018 9:44 AM

Since it was constructed in the 1950s, the University of Manchester’s Student Union building has always been more than the traditional bar and social hub, containing multiple entertainment venues and student services too.

To enhance its facilities, the University is investing in an ambitious ‘Future Union’ refurbishment and extension as part of its £1 billion campus improvement programme.

The project includes two extensions constructed as infills to the rear courtyards.

To ensure that these façades complement the original building’s Portland Stone, 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.

Designed by architect, Wilson Mason, the project comprises three main phases, beginning with the extensions to the building, to enable the existing Students’ Union to remain operational throughout the programme.

The project began with construction of the new extensions in 2016 and, while completion of the project is not expected until summer 2018, the external envelope has now been completed.

Explains the project architect at Wilson Mason: “Both a high quality appearance and high performance materials were key elements of the design brief from the University.

“The SureClad façade system from Shackerley answered those quality requirements in terms of both aesthetics and performance.

"As an impermeable material, ceramic granite 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.”

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 secure consent. These large format samples were temporarily fixed to the existing building’s external brickwork to clearly demonstrate the aesthetics and quality of the proposed system in situ.

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 bespoke design and prefabrication work by Shackerley to provide sections needed for the intersections with windows and abutment to the existing brickwork.

Explains Adrian Cowell from the project’s cladding installer, Task Contract Services Ltd: “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, 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, along with capping details for the steps leading to the new entrance in a dark grey/black colourway to create a contrast with the creamy coloured façade and hard landscaping.

Construction of the new infill extensions has now been completed. The remaining refurbishment and remodelling work completes in 2018.

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