GBA Case Study
Digital Campus, Sheffield
Business Centre

Carey Jones Architect’s challenge was to select a totally unique external cladding medium, to sit at the heart of this prominent modern office concept

The result was a building encompassing over 2000m2 of Dark Grey Bespoke GRC cladding panels, all of them having Special, varying, and riven textured faces.

Alongside cost and aesthetic priorities, environmental considerations, in particular the carbon energy score, BREEAM rating and product sustainability were uppermost in the minds of the project design team as they began to settle upon the cladding material specification.

The project brief to GB Architectural Cladding Products (GBA) by GMI Construction and Carey Jones for this design and build office development included: “Design, manufacture and install bespoke GRC Cladding units. Ensure that the GRC package incorporates the support system fix back to the structural steel frame work. Finite tolerances and coordination with adjoining products and trade will also be paramount toward the success of this key project element. Provision of production of installation information together with design warranties is also a specific requirement”.

Detailed Design

GBA worked closely with Carey Jones Architects, GMI Construction and BSCP Engineers to create the special Lightweight Grade 18 GRC Cladding panel configurations.

All of the panels were to be supported upon continuous galvanized rails attached to METSEC structural framework.

In November of 2007 all panel designs were signed off and the creation of the production molds and casting of the special GRC panels began.

GBA and BSCP Engineers knew that this ground-breaking design would allow GMI Construction to achieve weather-tightness at an earlier stage, helping to ensure that the project was completed on programme.

Old reclaimed masonry slabs breathe new life into state of the art, modern offices

With the design team and planners having first viewed small indicative product sample swatches, the first challenge to resolve was the detailed design of the GRC panels. Their configuration would need to be aesthetically acceptable in terms of layout and sizes, whilst allowing GBA to actually create fibreglass production moulds to accommodate the required panel dimensions.

Due to the dimensional limitations attached to all ‘brand new’ paving sizes available within today’s marketplace, the riven-faced production moulds (much larger overall dimensions being needed) could only be created from reclaimed riven paving stones. This masonry type was many decades old, yet if available, would be used to create the master fibreglass production moulds for the Sheffield Digital Campus.

In anticipation of GMI Construction’s order, GBA had already located a consignment of ancient riven paving stones (size 1500x900mm) from deep within the cellars of the Crossley Heath Grammar School, Halifax.  GBA collected these old flagstones and carefully refurbished them, to be ready for a new, completely unexpected purpose: these once redundant slabs were now to have a new destiny – to form the signature patterns within this brand new GRC facade.

D-Campus - reclaimed flags

Installation

In the depths of a freezing Yorkshire winter, GBA’s installation team arrived on site.

Without losing a single day’s production and without reverting to any external scaffold or site craneage, installation of all GRC Cladding panels was completed quickly and quietly, in conjunction with surrounding external trades.

Before contract handover, the quality of completed installation was rigorously inspected by Cladtech (the client’s independent cladding consultants).

Project Overview

Once again the lightweight, fast track properties of Grade 18 GRC Cladding in conjunction with the associated logistical and environmental benefits re-affirms GB Architectural Grade 18 GRC as the perfect cladding solution here.

“GBA’s input was invaluable, their in-depth specialist knowledge were prominent factors in their selection. Their highly-professional approach continued through until completion of the facade installation, which was delivered on programme and on budget.” Paul Tew, GMI Construction.

Paul Tew of GMI Construction said: “Like all new applications of a tried and tested product, there is an element of uncertainty to ensuring that the performance and visual aspirations of the concept are achieved without compromise. By close coordination with our architects Carey Jones, and the professional highly-specialist input from GBA and their engineers, we developed this bespoke GRC panel and carrier system. This ultimately was to become one of the key components of a highly-successful completed development. Throughout the process, GBA’s input was invaluable, their in-depth specialist knowledge were prominent factors in their selection. Their highly-professional approach continued through until completion of the facade installation, which was delivered on programme and on budget.”

The buildings are weathering beautifully and will undoubtedly provide interesting city landmarks, directly opposite Sheffield Railway Station for decades to come.

Grade 18 GRC Advantages

  • Surety of cost
  • Lightweight (High performance, thin section composite concrete product typically 70kg/m2).
  • Environmental benefits- A BREEAM A+ Rated product.
  • The installation process negated the need for site craneage and external scaffold, was totally unaffected by inclement weather and, in the main, was completely removed from the project critical path.
  • The design methodology followed tried and tested principles which facilitated fast, simple affective connection details. This eliminated the need for any secondary carrier system.
  • The routine Maintenance requirement once installed is virtually non existent.

Acknowledgements

Architect: Carey Jones, Leeds.
Main Contractor: GMI Construction plc, Leeds.
GRC Manufacturer: GB Architectural Cladding Products Ltd, Liversedge, West Yorkshire.
Design Consultants: BSCP Engineers, Leeds.

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