Knauf Creanova combines aesthetics with practicality at LeSoCo

Architects designing the striking atrium at the entrance to a multi-million college development in South London have employed Creanova panel from Knauf – the UK’s leading manufacturers of lightweight building materials and systems – to provide the aesthetic appeal of real wood veneer combined with the practical benefits of gypsum fibre panel.

LeSoCo, an amalgamation of Lewisham College and Southwark College, engaged Richard Hopkinson Architects, working with Platform 5 Architects and Deloittes in a £40 million plus, 14,100m2 project to create a major new college building and refurbish existing buildings on its site in The Cut, by Waterloo.

Peter Allen, partner with Platform 5 Architects, says the suggestion to use Creanova came from the sub-contractor, HLS Installation, which pointed out the advantages of the panel. “Originally we wanted to use real wood as a natural material to give the space a warm, welcoming feel so we would have had hardwood timber panels fixed up to timber noggins with insulation laid behind,” he explained. “But we opted for Creanova because there is no thermal movement once it has been installed and the real wood veneer meant there was no compromise in appearance – it was a very close match.”

After being introduced to the project by HLS Installation, Knauf not only produced samples but also worked with the company to develop a fixing system and pre-cut panels that would simplify and accelerate the final installation.

 “We highlighted the advantages of using the Creanova panels,” said Mark Snelling, Senior Project Manager at HLS Installations. “They’re pre-finished, maintenance free, and moisture resistant.

 “The panels that we used on the angled ceiling were all pre-mitred and had countersunk holes pre drilled so as to speed up the on site works. The straight sections were formed out of 3m panels cut to suit on site. We used the Knauf C profile sub-grid, this was preferred over the MF grid for its use on the sloping sections of the ceiling.” 

 A high tech, fully engineered product, Knauf Creanova panels are prefabricated for easy installation, as Peter Allen noted. “The panels were delivered palletted and in stacks, pre-cut and ready to install – you wouldn’t get that with timber.”

 Developed to provide both aesthetically versatility and outstanding performance, the Creanova panel consists of a gypsum fibre panel with a finished surface that can be digitally printed, continuous pressure laminate (CPL) or high pressure laminate (HPL) coating, real wood veneer, lacquered or paint.


These panels can be curved, perforated or micro-perforated to achieve any acoustic performance or supplied with a magnetic whiteboard surface and their high density and high impact resistance means they are ideal for areas of high traffic.


 The digital print boards can be supplied in either a uniform or standard finish while the HPL board is available in either a single colour or wood finish. The CPL boards are supplied in standard coatings of white/grey, silver/grey, anthracite and beech/maple while the boards featuring real wood veneer are available in maple, birch, beech, oak, ash and walnut. Other wood veneers are also available.

The lacquer boards are supplied in clear lacquer as standard but can be supplied in RAL and NCS colours on request, while all the boards in the range can be supplied in bespoke finishes as required for individual projects.

 The lacquered and wood veneer boards can be bent to a radius of up to 300mm – a semi-circle - while the HPL and CPL boards can be supplied curved if required, and so extend the interior design possibilities even further.

Ideal for interior walls and ceilings, Knauf Creanova panels are especially suited for applications subject to strict fire regulations. Formaldehyde-free, the core material is non-combustible and deliver fire performance under the EN13501-1 A1, s1, d-0. This means it makes no contribution to fire, nor produces smoke, flaming droplets or particles.

Standard board sizes are 12, 16, 18 and 25mm thick and measure 3000, 2500, 2000, 1500, 1200 and 600mm long and 600mm wide. At LeSoCo special sizes were used; and other thicknesses and sizes are available on request. Creanova panels can be used alongside other Knauf products, and will fall under the Knauf product and system warranties.