Façades: Ceramics are going up

We are used to ceramics on horizontal surfaces (worktops and patios) but they are also increasingly being used for vertical surfaces (façades). Here are some examples from Shakerley.

Shakerley is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of ceramic granite, engineered stone and quarried stone façade systems, supplying world class external cladding systems from its ISO 9001-accredited manufacturing centre in Chorley, Lancashire.

One of its most popular surfaces is its SureClad Ceramic Granite ventilated façade system, an impressive example of which can be seen at the £125million Proton Beam Therapy Unit at The Christie in Manchester.

Proton beam therapy (PBT) is an advanced form of radiotherapy and the unit at The Christie is the National Health Service’s first high energy PBT centre in the UK.

Installation of Shackerley’s SureClad Ceramic Granite system in two contrasting shades of creamy beige and grey ‘Travertine’ façade panels continues Shackerley’s association with The Christie, where it previously supplied cladding for the Oak Road Treatment Centre, the Hospital’s Oldham site and the Integrated Procedures Unit.

The design team for the Proton Beam Therapy project at HKS architects selected the system to provide a natural looking finish in soft tones, to give the building a warm, welcoming feeling. The beige panels feature subtle grey veining while the grey panels have lighter speckling and a subtly reflective surface that connects the façades to the outdoor environment.

The building is accessed from Oak Road, so the choice of the SureClad system also creates visual synergy between the new development and the Oak Road Treatment Centre, emphasising the impression of a planned expansion of a cohesive campus.

Shakerley fabricated the large format 1198mm x 598mm panels required for the façade from a single batch of ceramic granite for each colourway, ensuring a precise match of colour and patina across the whole façade.

The company also prefabricated a wide range of detailed and bracketed panel returns for window surrounds and corners at its Lancashire factory.

There is complete assurance about fire safety, with the SureClad Ceramic Granite system classified as Class A1 to BS EN 13501-1 for fire safety.

The cladding was supplied fully-prefabricated by Shackerley with all fixings, brackets and straps secured with undercut anchors ready for immediate installation on to Shackerley’s patented, Queen’s Award-winning SureClad Access system.

Franko Covington from HKS Architects says: “From the outset the design approach was to focus on the patient experience.

“It was also important to communicate the prestige and importance of the new facility and maximise its prominent position near the hospital main entrance. The use of quality cladding materials from Shackerley was part of this strategy.”

Brian G Newell, Chairman and Founder of Shackerley, is pleased to have been of assistance. “We’re very proud to have continued our association with The Christie by supplying the SureClad system for the Proton Beam Therapy Unit... Our systems are proven to offer high levels of safety, durability and aesthetics, all attributes that make them ideal for a prestigious healthcare environment like The Christie.”

Another outstanding example of the use of Shackerley’s SureClad Ceramic Granite ventilated façade system on a medical building is the £329million Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

The new hospital is a centrepiece of what used to be called Liverpool BioCampus and has since been re-branded as the Liverpool Health Campus. It is the largest facility of its kind in England and accommodates

in-patients in the comfort of modern en-suite bedrooms.

Again, the external façade cladding emphasises the importance of the scheme as visitors approach the building. Shackerley’s SureClad Ceramic Granite ventilated façade has been specified with a honed ‘Travertine’ finish on both the lower levels of the building and its key elevations, contrasting with the curtain walling of the central tower.

The SureClad system not only answers the contemporary aesthetic and performance requirements of the project, its colour and texture references the Portland limestone so prevalent in Liverpool’s historic buildings from the days when the people of the city wanted to demonstrate Liverpool’s importance by building in the same stone that had been so widely used in London.

For Shakerley, this Royal Liverpool University Hospital project was one of the most complex ventilated cladding projects it had ever delivered. It involved 8,282m2 of SureClad ceramic granite façade – more than 34,000 individual panels that were all specially cut or calibrated to an exacting schedule based on a modular façade design comprising 14 standard formats.

Shackerley also supplied more than 8,000 bracketed corner sections, returns and reveals as single-piece, installation-ready units. The visible edges of all the panels fabricated for use in this way were mitred to create neat birds mouth detailing.

As usual, all prefabrication took place at Shackerley’s quality accredited production plant in Lancashire.

After the panels had been cut to size they were drilled using specialist undercut drilling machinery and fitted with SureClad Access system fixing straps, secured using the company’s patented undercut anchorage system.

The project needed around 150,000 individual stainless steel undercut anchors to attach almost 51,000 SureClad Access System straps and 16,500 brackets to the panels.

Chris Jones from the FK Group, which was the building envelope contractor on the project, said; “Shackerley’s meticulous quality control and monitoring system was critical when it came to processing a project of this scale and complexity.

“Each delivery was scheduled strictly in accordance with the installation programme, which avoided the potential for any mistakes or delays on site, speeding up installation for our team and aiding quality assurance.”

A further example of Shakerley’s contribution is Axtell House, an Art Deco building in Soho, London.

The original building has natural stone façades and the project, designed by Darling Associates for E&A Property Investment Company, included the construction of two new storeys on top of the existing building, with the aim of revitalising the property through a robust composition that unifies historic and contemporary design themes.

Of course, adding two more stories had to take account of the weight, which the engineered stone cladding contributed to resolving while complementing the original stone façade visually.

Shackerley created channel detailing on the panels to tie in with the Art Deco theme. The robust external appearance remains appropriate to the heritage context.

The result is world class office accommodation in a prime London location. The whole building has been let to VF Corporation as the showcase building for its multiple global fashion brands.

Below. Axtell House in Soho, London.