Project Description

The external cladding comprises of 692 plain and 459 Brick faced GRC panels, which combined total approximately 4000sq.m of surface area.

BIRMINGHAM UNIVERSITY

New Faculty of Engineering

Former GRCA Full Member Telling Architectural Ltd’s Innovative Brick Faced GRC and Plain Faced GRC facade systems, achieved the design brief as part of £47m Education Sector project. Following a devastating fire in 2021 the operations of the company were bought by Ibstock plc to launch Ibstock Telling GRC Limited operating within the new ‘Futures’ division.

This state of the art 12,000sq.m specialist research and study facility, which comprises 5 floors including a double-height atrium feature, provides a new home of engineering excellence, that will enable staff, students, and researchers to collaborate with academics and industry.

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INFORMATION

Client: University of Birmingham
Main Contractor: Wilmott Dixon
Installer: Alucraft Systems Ltd
Engineer: Arup
Architects: Associated Architects
Scope of work: 4000m2 Plain and Brick Faced GRC Grade 18P.

The external cladding comprises of 692 plain and 459 Brick faced GRC panels, which combined total approximately 4000sq.m of surface area.

The design brief and challenge was to create a large and expressive form with large concrete fins over a cantilever, something that could not be achieved with dense/precast concrete. In addition to this, was the desire for a structure that would resonate with the rail industry, with the intention that the façade would be designed to have the same visual impact as railway lines and track signalling.

The solution to achieve these goals was to use a lightweight Glassfibre Reinforced Concrete Cladding System with complimentary use of traditional and modern textures which would also provide the prerequisite visual impression of a structure that appears more solid and much heavier than it actually is.

The innovation of Brick faced GRC, which removes traditional brickwork from the critical path and into off-site/modern methods of construction was challenged further by the creative design features proposed for this project.

In this instance, traditional stretcher bond elevations, beams and column patterns also serve to picture frame traditional English bond features that are further accentuated with alternating expressed header bricks. Splayed and recessed panels when combined with plain GRC cills not only highlight the creativity in the design but also the three dimensional capabilities that GRC offers.

The combination of the specified Maranello brick and raked hydraulic lime joint mortar in addition to optimized modelling, results in a bespoke brick façade with a standard of finish that replicates the skills comparable to that of a traditional master brick/stone mason.

In addition to the challenges stated above, it is worth acknowledging that the final stages of the project, including the manufacture, delivery and installation of the GRC façade system, was completed on time and delivered safely during the Covid pandemic.
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