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The façade of Lancaster University's new contemporary arts HQ comprises almost entirely of Rodeca's polycarbonate panels.

Translucent cladding panels from Rodeca have helped Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA) become the first higher education building to achieve a BREEAM “Outstanding” rating.

In addition, LICA is only the second building ever to achieve this post-completion - out-performing Lancaster University's brief to least meet a BREEAM “Excellent” rating.

Rodeca's recyclable polycarbonate panels were used throughout the 4,949m² building as a rainscreen cladding system generally although in some areas they were trebled to form the whole of the external wall and meet Part L of the Building Regulations.

Some 1,840m² formed the façade elements, with Rodeca's 40mm-thick Kristall panels forming the rainscreen cladding and external skin of the whole wall element, then Kristall forming the middle skin and 50mm Opal the internal skin of the whole wall. The same build up featured on 60m²of hangar doors.

The 500mm-wide panels are manufactured with a tongue and groove coupling and are fixed with steel fasteners, in LICA's case by specialist sub-contractor M Price. Theoretically, facades can be more than 200m long and a panel height of up to 25 m can be mounted in one piece.

Some 200 times tougher than glass, the panels enable light transmission between 5-65% and at the same time are highly efficient insulators of heat (< 0.8W/m²K) and sound (21-43dB). Lightweight (approximately 4.5kg/m²) but stable, they also feature good fire resistance to BS and EN standards and are UV-protected with a 10-year-guarantee.

Project architect James Jones of Sheppard Robson, said: “We were aware of other buildings that have used the Rodeca product with excellent results and have also specified the product previously on the Sheppard Robson-designed business school, the Rose Bowl, at Leeds Metropolitan University. 

“From the early design concepts it was clear the client wanted to achieve an image of translucence in the building which we knew Rodeca would enable us to achieve. Other than glazing it forms the entire external envelope, creating that degree of translucence throughout the building.

“Aesthetically, the Rodeca product helped us to achieve the translucent effect we sought to achieve. For performance effectiveness it generally acted as a rainscreen but in some areas it is the whole external wall. It was trebled to meet the thermal aspect of the building requirements.”

LICA houses a range of flexible performance and workshop spaces that support a programme of music, drama, design and fine art. Sheppard Robson's design was developed as an exploration of the interplay between nature and the man-made, inspired by the woodland setting.

The new, £10million LICA now encompasses Lancaster's teaching and research activities in art, design, film studies, music and theatre studies as well as three public art activities - the Peter Scott Gallery, Nuffield Theatre and International Concert Series which takes place in the Great Hall. It also hosts Imagination@Lancaster, a “centre of excellence for research into products, places and systems for the future.”

A three-storey rectangular block constructed by main contractor Morgan Sindall from prefabricated cross laminated timber frame and steel frame with precast concrete floors is double height in entrance and event areas and highly acoustic in performance areas.

The BREEAM HE “Outstanding” rating was reached using methods including a campus-wide district heating system, roof-mounted photovoltaics, low water use sanitary fittings and a rainwater recovery system, a ventilation strategy, on-site composting, extensive use of natural light and low-energy lighting systems, and low-emissivity double glazing.

The building won the Higher Education award at the 2012 BREEAM Awards for the industry's top-scoring sustainable buildings.

LICA's chair Prof Rachel Cooper, when asked about her vision for the building, was quoted as saying: “an iconic shed with flexible everything.”


Photo: Hufton+Crow
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