Designed by Athfield Architects, in collaboration with Dunning Thornton Consultants and Arrow International, the structure included the world’s first multi-storey, post-tensioned timber frame.
It was also unique for Wight Aluminium because the company was involved in the construction and installation of a total wall system, including solid panels, that were fitted within window frames – the APL 135 mm Flushglaze suite – on the building’s eastern elevation.
The large studio space for students on the upper levels not only featured an all-in-one walls and windows system from Wight but an extensive system of opening sashes on electric opening gear, controlled by a building management system that was part of the Wight contract. This allowed for controlled ventilation and smoke extraction.
One hundred and eleven pages of shop drawings were prepared and provided by Wight for a wide range of challenging system, manufacturing and installation requirements, including an extensive range of customised brackets.
The curtain wall on the upper floors appears from the outside and inside to be part wall and part window but is in fact an integrated system with a combination of solid ‘feature’ panels and 24 mm double-glazed ‘vision’ panels – windows. The feature panels are a multi-layered arrangement of 9 mm grey Etercolour rainscreen boards hanging on the outside of the window system, with a composite panel between the Eterboard cladding and a pinnable acoustic board (for student use) glue-fixed to the composite panel. This acoustic board is the wall panels that are seen from the inside.
The mix of solid and glazed panels was chosen to mitigate the chance of the building overheating, with the solid panels arranged irregularly for aesthetic effect.
On the southern and eastern elevations, large cedar vertical fins penetrated the Flushglaze mullions, supported by steel beams and brackets in complex configurations to ensure failsafe load support.
A variety of other window and door systems was used in the project, including a specially designed double-skin façade at the western entrance and a customised 600 mm wide louvre blade (composite panel clad in aluminium) on the northern wall, penetrating the two-part Flushglaze mullion.
Athfield Architects said that the façade package was tendered at the developed design stage to benefit from Wight’s expertise in detailed façade design. Wight was able to promise prefinished panels and modules convenient for scaffoldless installation and achieve a high-quality finish within a tight construction timeframe.