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Glazing from Kawneer features on the first building of AlconburyEnterprise Campus.

The landmarkanchor building, designed by AHMM as executive architects, on an emergingenterprise park has achieved a BREEAM “Very good” rating with help from leadingarchitectural aluminium systems supplier Kawneer.

Kawneer's AA®100 curtain walling and series 190 doors feature on the £2.5millionIncubator - the first building to be erected in a 20-year project which istransforming  a former airfield inHuntingdonshire into 3 million square foot of commercial hi-tec business space,5,000 homes and a range of transport infrastructure, community facilities and700 acres of green space. The airfield is being developed by owners Urban&Civic.

The zone-drained curtain walling has been used on an enclosed butunheated double-height glazed gallery and as the external fabric to afour-storey tower containing meeting rooms. Here, the curtain walling continuesabove the roof deck to form a transparent balustrade to the rooftop viewingarea.

The Kawneer curtain walling is complemented by the manufacturer'sheavy-duty commercial entrance doors throughout the 1,400m2 buildingand were installed by specialist sub-contractor Drayton Windows for maincontractor Kier Construction.

The brief for Feilden+Mawson as the design and build architects to KierConstruction was to develop the proposal for a landmark development to supportnew and small businesses in the high-tech manufacturing, research anddevelopment sectors and to showcase sustainable features to reflect thelow-carbon aspirations of the overall campus development.

This was achieved through the provision of flexible office spaces thatcan be sub-divided into a range of floor areas, supported by formal andinformal meeting room spaces and reception facilities as well as a café withinthe Kawneer-glazed lightweight timber glulam-framed gallery.

The concrete frame over the main office areas and meeting rooms, whichcontains 20% locally-sourced recycled aggregate, provides high thermal masswhich, working alongside mixed-mode ventilation systems and an externalenvelope (the Kawneer curtain walling) that exceeds Part L requirements,reduces energy needs for cooling.

Feilden+Mawson senior associate David Kean said the Kawneer curtain wallsystem created a highly-transparent double-height volume to the glazed galleryspace which enabled natural light to filter into the office spaces whilecreating a visually interesting space which encourages the use of the groundfloor cafe and informal meeting spaces at first-floor for social interactionbetween tenant businesses.

The vertical emphasis and rhythm of the curtain wall to the double-heightglazed gallery transfers seamlessly into the four-storey glazed tower whichstands to attention at the east end of the building to enclose meeting roomspaces.

He said: “Kawneer were not part of the original employer's requirementsoutline specification. However, to achieve affordability limits, KierConstruction, as the Design & Build contractor, sought alternative 'equivalentor better' curtain wall systems through their extensive supply chain partners.

“The benefit of this approach is that the supply chain is developed onprice as well as performance of the sub-contractor to support the projectthrough their knowledge of the Kawneer curtain wall system and technicalback-up through the provision of system detailing and design.

“The Kawneer curtain wall system achieved a slim visual profile for thevertical emphasis across the two and four-storey spans. It was also able tointegrate slim blanking profiles at the quoins and supply air intakes at lowlevel for the smoke ventilation system to the glazed gallery which blend inwell with the overall RAL colour of the framing.

“The system also enabled complementary entrance, emergency egress andmaintenance access doors to be integrated within the curtain wall framework. Thespecification of aluminium curtain walling also assisted with achieving targetscores for the BREEAM credits.

“One of the most difficult areas to detail was the curtain wall andmotorised, glazed sliding access hatch to the rooftop viewing area at the headof the four-storey spiral stair within the tower. This was where the benefit ofthe supply chain partnership approach comes into play, where the curtain wallsub-contractor was able to assist with the development of bespoke flashingsthat could be integrated with the weather seals and cappings to disparatesystems.”

He added: “The glazed elements are the key feature of the design,creating transparent volumes through the disciplined use of repetitive,vertical curtain walling and assisting in the visual transition between the two-storeyand four-storey elements.”

The glazed elements are a foil to the two-storey, black larch claddingof the main office accommodation with punched openings for timber/aluminiumcomposite double-glazed windows.

“This is not so much a building of two different facades but a buildingwhich expresses its different interior functions through the use of appropriatematerials and massing,” said David Kean.

And he added: “Control of the detailed interfaces between the Kawneercurtain wall system and adjacent larch cladding and single-ply polymeric roofmembranes was required to ensure the transitions between one plane and anotherdid not become visually heavy or obtrusive, detracting from the elegance andvisually deceptive simplicity of the design.

“There are a number of proprietary products available from Kawneer toassist with abutment and roof flashing details. Again the benefit of thesub-contract supply chain was evident here when developing bespoke flashingsthat were suitable and appropriate for the design.”

The RAL colour used for Kawneer's curtain wall was also used for thecomposite windows to the office areas and matched the black stain of the larchcladding to ensure a co-ordinated use of external colour treatments to create avisually cohesive design.     

David Kean said: “Urban&Civic are very pleased with their design asthe Incubator Building is quickly filling up with tenants and becoming a newvenue for business meetings within the local area.”

The building has also won two awards over the past seven months, namelythe British Council of Offices, Midlands Region Award for Projects up to 2,000m²and LABC East Anglia Building Excellence Award 2014 for Best CommercialBuilding.

The development is now a finalist in the National LABC Awards to be heldin London in November 2014 and was also shortlisted for the BritishConstruction Industry Awards 2014 in the category for Building Project of theYear up to £10million.

David added: “It was interesting to see the comparison between the 3Dimages produced to support the planning application and marketing brochures withthe as-built condition. The design concept has been rigorously adhered tothroughout the construction phase. The clarity of the design has not sufferedthrough the Design & Build process which can often dilute the quality ofthe architectural intent.”

He concluded: “Kawneer have also met with us to discuss the importanceof supply chain support to projects where the correct specification of curtainwall and glazing systems are critical in the early stages of design,particularly where specific performance and aesthetic criteria need to be achieved.”


Photo:Tim George


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