The sky's the limit
Architectural glazing systems by Kawneer were specified for a multi award-winning research centre for their design and performance capabilities.
Kawneer's AA®100 zone-drained curtain walling and three types of doors were selected by frequent Kawneer specifiers CPMG architects for the £12.5 million Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC) at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire. Cranfield is the only university in Europe to combine major aerospace research facilities such as the AIRC with an operational airport and runway.
The Kawneer curtain walling panes of 3m x 1.3m, and AA®720 thermally-superior doors, series 190 heavy-duty commercial entrance doors and AA®3720 bifold doors, were installed on the steel-frame structure over eight months by a team of four from approved dealer Drayton Windows for main contractor and their parent company RG Carter.
CPMG's brief was for a state-of-the-art research centre that will help to change the design of future aircraft, bringing academic research and the testing of new ideas by the co-funders. Their design is apt - a BREEAM "Excellent" three-storey interpretation of a modern hangar.
The BIM Level 2 designed accommodation comprised a triple-height entrance atrium and high bay area containing avionics, thermals, mechanical, electrical and structural laboratories … and the second largest gantry crane in Europe using the only "Mega" lift jacking system available in the UK.
Covered laboratories between these triple-height spaces offer the opportunity for further controlled research. Two further floors of accommodation arranged above the covered laboratories include visualisation and simulation suites, open-plan office areas and university meeting areas. Views from these upper floors benefit from an aspect that overlooks the high bay area and entrance atrium, showcasing aerospace research and providing collaborative working environments. The building includes exposed concrete soffits for thermal mass and photovoltaics for renewable energy generation.
CPMG associate lead Aiden Bell said: "We made sure the designs for the facility not only met the brief to provide the space and functionality that was needed but also reflected the university's strong architectural identity which already has a number of flagship buildings. Our design was selected from a number of competitors as we portrayed the strength of the university's academic research within the architecture of the building.
"We specified the Kawneer systems as they could achieve the tight u-values and required design criteria for two curtain walling systems that were 38m wide x 13m high. Both east and west elevations have large expanses of the Kawneer curtain walling to offer visibility to the entrance lightwell and the high bay area at the rear of the building. It allowed the interior aspects of the atrium and high bay area to be showcased."
He added: "The university's commitment to sustainability in general and to a better performance on environmental issues is a fundamental part of its strategic vision. All major developments must be to the highest possible energy standards, achieve BREEAM excellent and have minimal carbon impact. The latest technology and innovative solutions to minimise heat gains and maximise lighting and natural ventilation are implemented."
RG Carter, who were on site, on the perimeter of the airport, for two years, said: "Using our in-house capabilities with Carter Design, we provided support and advice from our own structural and civil engineers to redesign the structural frame and change the curtain walling system from a self-supported to a supported glazing system, and also provide additional support to the structural frame.
"Together with advice from our own in-house company Drayton Windows, we provided the architect and engineer with design and construction details, as well as windload and structural calculations, from specialist suppliers such as Kawneer to develop a workable solution that met the client's expectations and still followed the design concept that the architect had laid down."
The AIRC has won a LABC national award for Best Large Commercial Project and a RICS East award for Design through Innovation.