Formula One apprentices give Rodeca cladding a podium finish
Backlit translucent polycarbonate cladding by Rodeca has provided a beacon of light for apprenticeship training.
Some 1,800m2 of Rodeca’s 40mm PC 2540-4 wall panel has been used as rainscreen and internal skin on a new apprentice training centre for young engineers at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at The University of Sheffield.
Designed by Bond Bryan Architects to a brief that included a BREEAM “Very good” rating, the external skin is Rodeca’s Bi-Colour Opal/Kristall polycarbonate panels with a 20-year UV protection warranty used as a rainscreen system on a fully-adjustable aluminium grid.
The internal skin behind the main façade is Opalised Yellow/Kristall Bi-Colour panels as a single-skin translucent wall (with the outer chambers of the panel clear and the rear face yellow). The three elevations of lightweight Rodeca panels contrast with black saw-tooth north-lit workshops at the rear of the main building that are reminiscent of buildings from the original industrial revolution.
The luminous four-storey teaching block, affectionately known as “The iceberg”, focuses on high-level practical and academic apprentice training in sectors such as aerospace, energy and Formula One. It comprises reception, management, office and classroom space within 5,566m2 on a site that was formerly an open cast mine.
Rodeca panels, which are 200 times tougher than glass, allow light transmission of up to 66% which reduces a building’s reliance on artificial light. Panels with U values as low as 0.36 W/m²K, compared to double glazing at 2.8 W/m²K and single glazing at 5.8 W/m²K, are capable of reducing energy losses by up to 80%.
Bond Bryan saw Rodeca as a way to realise the brief which asked for flexible training accommodation with workshop facilities to an innovative and striking design. This was “very positively” received by local planners.
Architect Jon Rigby said they specified Rodeca for the rainscreen and “internal” windows for the aesthetic it achieved at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London by Herzog and De Meuron.
“We wanted a design which achieved a translucent layered quality to the main elevation and assumed different appearances depending on different lighting conditions. It was also important for the entire skin to be monolithic without panel modules and the 18m high Rodeca panels allowed us to achieve this in an elegant way,” he said.
“In most areas the Rodeca existed as a rainscreen cladding skin beyond a white lined cavity. Elsewhere we used a secondary internal skin of Rodeca which gave a number of different layers and really helped transform the envelope at night.”
The Rodeca cladding was installed on the steel-frame building by specialist sub-contractor Cover Structure for main contractor Willmott Dixon.
Cover Structure’s commercial director Paul Cox said: “The main building has impressive Rodeca cladding to three elevations. Isolated sections of this were installed in bespoke colours to create a feature lighting effect to the façade. This was done by utilising a secondary coloured Rodeca product (yellow) in place of the insulation board and plastisol sheet which provides clear “whiteout” for the translucent cladding.
“The Rodeca cladding that forms the external façade to three elevations of the main building are, at 18m in length, currently the longest panels ever supplied to the UK by the manufacturer and installed in this application.
“The lightweight translucent polycarbonate interlocking panels were mounted on a bespoke engineered bracket system, this element of work being developed in conjunction with our in-house manufacturing facility together with modified tooling that enabled bespoke flashings and pressings to be produced in both aluminium and steel to complement the desired design intent.
“The unusual size of the Rodeca product, being 18m long and of lightweight construction, created significant installation challenges, predominately with wind, being at high altitude and in an exposed area.
“Installation methodologies had to be effectively developed and communicated to the workforce. The team developed a workable solution for the installation of these panels and produced, in conjunction with the installation crew, through “story board” method statement, step-by-step instructions and diagrams. This was necessary as a large proportion of the elevations was installed without any means of mechanical lifting.”
He added: “Materials were designed and procured to minimise waste throughout the project. Quantities and sizes of the majority of products being ordered and delivered to site in the required sizes and length. The building envelope passed required air tightness performance standard when checked.”