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Project in brief

Client: University of Leeds

Architects: ADP

Structural engineers: WSP

Main contractor: Shepherd Construction

Aluminium façade solutions: Wicona

Aluminium facade solutions help lift landmark library in Leeds

2015-12-28

Specially-adapted aluminium façade systems from the Wicona brand have been specified for a new £26m library for the University of Leeds, one of the largest universities in the UK.


Photos: Bridges CommunicationsThe new gateway to the University of Leeds is a bold and confident statement for the future of the institution.

The 6,500-square meter learning hub is expected to help the university attract more students in the competitive higher education environment and provide a cultural center to enrich the student experience and the wider community.

Designed by ADP, the scheme occupies a sensitive location in a conservation area, surrounded by listed buildings, including two churches, and in a streetscape that has remained almost unchanged in 50 years.  It is the fourth building on a challenging tear drop-shaped site, and its design had to be developed with careful articulation and considered fenestration to the façades.

Structural glazing
The four-story library features stepped façades to the north and south elevations that unlock a series of generous public spaces. It was conceived as a ribbon of learning around a central circulation and internal study space.

Aluminium facade solutions help lift landmark library in LeedsPortland stone cladding adds weight to the building and helps to present it as a place of importance to the university, complemented by extensive use of glass constructed from Wicona’s WICTEC 50SG structural glazing.

The curtain walling was designed to create an even distribution of light and an elegant appearance, as an alternative to punched openings or a grid across the building envelope. Large, flush picture windows were also formed using the Wicona WICTEC system, providing panoramic views across the campus and the cityscape.

Wicona is one of Sapa’s aluminium building systems brands.

Stringent acoustic requirements
The WICTEC 50SG structurally glazed system created a flush glass finish and was specially adapted for the project to anchor the solar shading fins.  It also had to meet stringent acoustic requirements and a rating of Rw DB 38 because of the building’s city center location and the impact of high traffic levels.

“The Wicona curtain walling had to meet a number of stringent specification criteria, including aesthetics, thermal and structural performance, and a high level of noise protection. It was also critical that the glazing was sufficiently robust to support the vertical blades for solar shading and that the connections could be integrated and carefully engineered,” says senior architect Torsten Bauszus of ADP.

“We are really pleased with how the glazing is performing.  Wicona’s systems delivered our expectations and we will be specifying them for future projects.”

Wicona’s WICLINE 90SG opening vents were inserted into the curtain walling to naturally ventilate the stair core, and WICSTYLE 75 aluminium doors were used for two entrances on the ground floor and for access to the roof where there are 50,000 bees living in hives.

The building is constructed to a BREEAM ‘excellent’ standard with low energy passive design and renewable energy generation.