Menai Science Park

Technically advanced in terms of both interface detailing and at manufacture, the impressive glazed façade at M-SParc (Menai Science Park) – Wales’ first dedicated science park – has been created using Sapa Elegance 52 aluminium curtain walling and forms the façade’s main waterproof line.

Located in Anglesey and operated by Bangor University, M-SParc is the flagship building for the new science park. The three-storey facility has been constructed to BREEAM Excellence standards and comprises 5,000 sqm offices, laboratory and workshop space for up to 700 people – from start-up businesses to large corporate companies.

Designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects, the building’s structure features a striking white continuous flowing ‘Ribbon’ that forms floor, wall and roof surfaces and wraps around the glazed façade to the front elevation. This two-storey entrance connects to the main three-storey, traditional brick cavity U-shape building, which houses the laboratories and offices, also featuring a façade that encloses an open courtyard.

Fenestration drivers – transparency and low energy

FaulknerBrowns Architects Associate and project architect, Leighton Cooksey, highlights the building’s objectives from a fenestration perspective: “One of our main priorities was to deliver a façade that would ensure transparency and openness of the Tanio area. This is the innovative and collaborative space that forms the main entrance as you walk in, and is also home to the cafeteria. Driven by the location, the façade allowed us to maximise the views towards Snowdonia and make the best of this fantastic scenery.

“Another main architectural driver, not just for the façade but the building as a whole, was low energy use. We designed and constructed the three-storey building to BREEAM Excellent standards – the façade making a significant contribution.”

Complex curved façade requires close collaboration

The complexity of the building’s curved scheme meant the design team, involving the architect, main contractor Willmott Dixon and fabricator Total Glass, supported by Sapa, worked closely pre-construction to ensure input into the early stage design. This provided direction on buildability from the outset.

Fabricator Total Glass’ Technical Manager Chris Valentine said: “Technically our focus was to get the interfacing detailing right between the curves of the Corian® and the curtain walling, especially where drainage was concerned.

“Designed using Sapa Elegance 52, the façade spans 74m x 11m. The curtain walling had to follow the curvature and flow of the ‘Ribbon’ with the aluminium having to be curved to follow the shape at point of fabrication.”

The project manager for Total Glass Andy Sheil explains. ”The installation of the curtain walling along with the windows and entrance doors was a time critical process, the interfacing with Corian cladding and brick façades was undertaken during some challenging weather conditions due to the science parc’s location.  All of the weather proofing and air tightness targets where achieved enabling the Principal Contractor to hand over on time.  This iconic building is one that the installers and project management team will have pride in remembering for a long time.”

As architect Leighton Cooksey explains: “The key area for the façade to the front elevation was the first floor horizontal and sloping Corian® ‘Ribbon’ – here the curtain walling continues behind the Corian® rainscreen. The glazing was the main waterproof line, with structural penetrations weathered within insulated composite spandrel panels in the curtain walling. There were also some critical details in the curved corners of the glazing where the curtain wall extends behind the glass, concealed by a removable flashing.”

Chris Valentine continues: “In total 1,650 sqm of Elegance 52 curtain walling and roof glazing was used across the building.

“One particularly challenging detail was a 6m glazed linking walkway that joins the innovation area to the brick-built main building. Designed by the architect with a double-pitched roof, the curtain walling follows the long contours across the two pitches of the roof at an angle. This involved a lot of calculations and modelling to accommodate the difficult compound angles and ensure the desired architectural intent was achieved.”

Doors installed to height assist courtyard cleaning access

Creating entrance and exit doors on the linkway, Sapa’s Stormframe ST II Aluminium Door system has been installed additionally to 2.8m high, providing access for the Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) for façade cleaning purposes. Suited to high traffic areas, this high performance door is tested to the relative clauses within ‘PAS24: 2012’ and is 2010 Equality Act compliant.

A thermally insulated aluminium sliding and lift-sliding door has also been installed using Sapa’s C125 Aluminium Sliding Door system, which opens from the cafeteria on to the external courtyard space where people can sit outside. Elsewhere, the company’s Dualframe 75 HP Aluminium Hinged Door was used for the balcony doors above ground floor level.

Throughout the building, 132 Sapa DF 75 Si casement windows have been installed, some as inserts within the curtain wall façade including automatic opening vents, and also to the courtyard elevations. Completing this contemporary outdoor space, the windows are complemented by timber rainscreen panels, with hit and miss battens of varying heights, and the blue-grey contrast of the Staffordshire Blue Brindle brick.

Double height glazed feature boardroom connects to roof

Another interesting application of Sapa’s Elegance 52 curtain wall is the double height internal glazing to the boardroom, which connects to the underside of the curved ‘Ribbon’ at roof level. Chris Valentine explains: “This prestigious glazed feature boardroom, which interfaces with the external façade, features multiple acute angles where the curtain wall kicks in and returns internally to enclose the space. For added privacy and enhanced acoustic performance, a high glass specification was adopted.”

The remainder of the building was about balancing the functional flexibility of the building, and providing natural ventilation, with Sapa offering further support. Total Glass’ Chris Valentine commented: “To ensure the correct products were specified, Sapa provided airflow calculations throughout the building, especially for the different DF 75 Si window options. Sapa also presented the technical attributes of the system, including weather performance, thermal properties and design benefits. This helped to give the Willmott Dixon site team and Bangor University representatives’ a better understanding of the Sapa architectural products to be installed on the scheme.

“With the amount of façade on the building the Sapa systems offer a low U-value solution. The company’s wide range of products, from windows to sliders, to balcony solutions and so on, means we can complete the whole building from one range. We have been partners with Sapa for a number of years, are experienced with the Sapa products and have a good working relationship, always getting the support required throughout a project.”

Two glass specifications were used across the building, solar control 7535 and 2918, which provides the dramatic reflective style externally. All of the façade systems were finished in a grey RAL 7031 marine powder coat finish due to the location and standard hardware was installed throughout.

The project was made possible after Bangor University secured £11 million of funding from the Welsh Government and £10 million of European Regional Development funding.

  • CLIENT Menai Science Park
  • YEAR 2018
  • PARTNERS Total Glass, Sapa, Willmott Dixon, FaulknerBrowns Architects

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