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Roofing & Cladding

MyPlace Havering youth centre


The landmark £4.7 million lottery-funded MyPlace Havering youth centre project, designed by Jacobs Architecture, is one of few buildings in the UK so far to achieve a ‘zero carbon’ rating. Jacobs’ sustainability engineers were tasked with ‘maximising the site’s potential’ by building it with the lowest-possible carbon footprint. Tasked with meeting such demanding environmental and sustainability criteria they specified a standing seam VMZINC, caterpillar-shaped roof in pre-weathered Quartz-Zinc®. This provides a highly distinctive feature in its own right while complementing the exterior timber façade, aggregate cladding panels and exposed beams. The building has also achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

Senior Project Architect Shelley Smith commented, “The council’s aspiration was for the building to be out of the ordinary, so we suggested it should be ‘zero carbon, with the electricity generated through use of solar PV panels on the roof. The concept received widespread support, with the local authority meeting additional costs beyond the grant received from the Big Lottery Fund. The additional £200,000 covered higher specification windows, photovoltaics and insulation. We went for a passive design approach to minimise the operational energy used, so the building has 250mm wall insulation, thick foam panels on the zinc roof, and high-spec double glazing”. The roof overhang has also been designed to provide solar shading”.

The architects developed a brief with stakeholders who, in addition to primary users included a local radio station, Link FM, and the Prospects graduate careers centre. Shelley Smith added, ‘I met about 15 teenagers aged between 14 and19 and worked the design through with them. The caterpillar came out of 3D modelling – but it is also a metaphor for what it provides – change and development.”

Due to the combination of sustainability, low maintenance and colour retention VMZINC pre-weathered roofing and façade systems are now specified for projects of extreme diversity. Complex standing seam cold or warm roofs can be created on pitches of as little as 3°. VMZINC PLUS is used to provide a compact warm roof which requires no underside ventilation.

The total investment in MyPlace schemes now stands at £273m, provided by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund, with 70 separate projects now confirmed.