FINE FINISH AT FABRICA January 2013
A new speculative office development in Manchester known as Fabrica, draws admiring glances from onlookers, thanks to its striking external screening solution, from the UK’s leading specialist, Levolux.
Fabrica, named in honour of the area’s textile heritage, provides 21,000 sq ft of BREEAM Excellent office space, arranged over five floors. Developed by Royal London Asset Management and designed by 5Plus architects, Fabrica is part of a wider regeneration project in central Manchester.
The imposing office building, which sits adjacent to a new 150-room Ibis hotel, stands out from neighbouring buildings with its gold perforated exterior. As is customary with modern office developments, there is an abundance of full-height glazing to maximise daylight levels. External window treatment was required on exposed elevations to increase privacy and comfort levels for occupants, and to create a distinctive external aesthetic.
Breaking with conventional design protocol, Levolux worked to a challenging brief to develop a radical screening solution. The custom solution needed to integrate seamlessly with the curtain walling, create an attractive exterior and provide occupants with good outward visibility.
An impressive array of perforated aluminium panels dress the building on two elevations. The attractive perforated screen extends from first floor level to cover an area 60 metres wide by 15 metres high, wrapping around the building’s south-west and north-west elevations. Each panel is engineered from 3mm thick aluminium sheet and decorated with hexagonal and circular perforations.
The perforated panels not only create an interesting external aesthetic but also reduce solar heat gain by absorbing and reflecting some of the sun’s rays before they can pass through glazed openings. This allows occupants to benefit from a naturally cool and comfortable environment, without the need for air conditioning.
By developing a series of design templates, the perforated panels combine together to create an interesting pattern which screens the building from the outside, but allows good outward visibility. The building’s exterior, with its dazzling gold anodised perforated panels, brightens up the Manchester skyline.
Directly behind the perforated panels, running horizontally on four levels in front of the glazing is a series of galvanised steel mesh walkways. Measuring 750mm wide, the walkways are integrated into the screening installation and provide a useful means of access for regular maintenance and cleaning of windows.
The screening solution, complete with integral walkways, is anchored back to the curtain walling using Levolux’s revolutionary Triniti® Bracket. The decision to incorporate the Triniti Bracket was an easy one, since it is the only curtain walling bracket that effectively prevents cold bridging and minimises noise transmission into the building.
Formed using ‘S’ profile louvre blades, fixed at a pitch of 75mm with a mesh backing, the Louvred sections create a protected, ventilated enclosure where plant and equipment can operate efficiently. The Louvres installed by Levolux, including those applied to single and double doors, are all finished in a durable dark grey powder coating.
As the UK’s only speculative office development outside London, Fabrica, with its eye-catching gold screening solution from Levolux, reflects Manchester’s growing confidence and will help fuel the city’s economic recovery.