The glazed façades of the New Student Centre at University College London (UCL) have pushed the boundaries of curtain wall design, thanks to the technical expertise and bespoke design skills applied by Façade & Glazing Solutions (FGS).
Appointed by main contractor Mace for their vast experience in technically challenging projects, FGS designed, supplied and installed Schueco curtain walling, windows and doors, in a glazing contract totalling £2.7m.
Nicholas Hare Architects designed the inspiring £67.4m building to provide a progressive and flexible environment, enhancing the lives of students and supports their needs and learning in the heart of the Bloomsbury campus.
Designed to achieve exemplary sustainability targets (BREEAM Outstanding), the memorable building adds to UCL’s rich heritage of distinguished architecture and strengthens the character of the public realm and the conservation area in which it sits, adjacent to the recently refurbished Bloomsbury Theatre.
Key components of the truly student-focused building are 1,000 study spaces, a Student Enquiries Centre, a café, space for exhibitors, landscaped central courtyard and a striking atrium.
David Tompson, Associate at Nicholas Hare Architects said: “From the outset FGS brought a positive can-do attitude to the project. Developing the design with them was a pleasure from start to finish.
“Their knowledge and expertise were instrumental in achieving a number of bespoke and innovative design solutions, and an overall outcome of which we can all be proud.”
Shane Johannessen, Head of Design at FGS, who previously designed the glazing elements of the RIBA Stirling award winning Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, commented: “This was by no means a standard curtain walling project; the technical challenges the FGS design team overcame far surpassed a standard curtain wall project.
“The New Student Centre features generous expanses of glazing to maximise daylight without excessive solar gain and almost every glazing element required bespoke design to meet the architect’s vision. We pushed the boundaries of curtain walling design to a whole new level and we are immensely proud of the outcome.”
The glass specification was driven by the sustainability targets and U-Values required (1.4 on average), which enabled FGS to determine the best performing coating required to meet the energy model calculations.
Other challenges, particularly relating to the Gordon Street elevation, included projecting facades consisting of bronze anodised panels with concealed fixings, and bespoke mesh infill, as well as ensuring the structural integrity of projecting bay windows with integrated bespoke internal reveals.
UCL wanted to invest in a quality building as part of its commitment to creating one of the most exciting universities in the world at which to study and work and the New Student Centre certainly achieves this.
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