Tech Hub

Sector: Commercial
Architect: Abell Nepp & Barber Casanova Ruffles
Client: Colorminium
Contractor: Willmott Dixon Construction

Bailey makes anodised curved rainscreen panels reality, not just an illusion

The Project

EBI’s Technical Hub in Cambridgeshire is a state-of-the-art facility for computer based Genome research. The facility also houses a bioinformatics translational suite, to allow collaborative working between researchers, and training facilities.

The complex façade design and construction was a key element of the project. The design of the building was by Abell Nepp, with the working drawings by Barber Casanova Ruffles, included anodised curved rainscreen panels for the façade of EBI’s Technical Hub. This design required a truly bespoke solution.

Creating the visual effect

To typically achieve a curved appearance, anodised rainscreen panels would be faceted, this meant the panel is straight but with tapered ends, so it looks curved from a distance. However the exacting standards of the architect’s design on this project required fully curved anodised rainscreen, coloured with a champagne bronze finish.

The biggest challenge for both the architect and contractor was how to achieve the desired visual effect, with the practicalities of manufacturing a product that would work on site.

Bailey Total Envelope was approached to help find a way to make the design a reality.

Manufacturing samples for peace-of-mind

Samples were created for review by the architect using a variety of manufacturing techniques, all required within a very short space of time. These 15-20 samples showed all the different ways of achieving the desired finish using different welding techniques, welding materials and finishes.

Techniques included:

  • Welding continuously on the front of the panel
  • Tack weld from behind
  • Tack weld from front

Each of these methods were then carried out using different welding rods, some standard and some using the parent material.

Welding rods would be used as standard, but the composition of the welding rod would vary greatly. The quality of anodised quality aluminium is very strict and would deliver a better finish.

The other consideration for the welding material was that, despite the consistency of quality, the composition of different anodised batches might have a different mineral or elemental make-up.

If you anodise from different casts you can end up with a different colour. To prevent this from happening, Bailey Total Envelope developed specific welding techniques to minimise any colour change.

Fine tuning the finish

In order to curve the individual piece they have to be welded. With anodised panels unlike a powder coated finish which can hide manufacturing marks; the weld can still be seen.

Again, samples were created both with the weld left exposed and with the panels ‘linished off’. This finish cleans and softens the look of the weld mark, leaving the panel looking like it has been intentionally folded instead of welded. The panels on EBI’s Technical Hub had the welds removed in order to enhance the appearance of such a prestigious project.

Delivering the vision on-site

Once on site it became clear that in some areas the steel work was incorrect, in some areas as much as +/- 150mm. To accommodate this, elements of steel were moved. Localised redesign took place to cover steel anomalies and some panels were remade, others elements ‘tweaked’ onsite.

Summary

The completed project is an architecturally stunning, high-tech building, designed and built with precision and uncompromising commitment to quality.

Find our more about our Aluminium Facade Systems here 

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