Modernising historic properties can bring major challenges, especially when you are dealing with public spaces. How do you combine existing structures with contemporary design and modern safety features without losing the all-important vintage feel? Architects at Fuse Studios gave careful consideration to this question as they prepared for a refurbishment of the Fine Arts building at Leeds University. Early on, the new access ramp at the front entrance was identified as an important visual centrepiece. A heavy-duty Easy Glass Max glass railing with an LED handrail from Q-railing was added to the ramp, giving the whole entrance a stylish, welcoming feel.
The Fine Arts building, completed in 1927, was designed in the classical-revival style by architect Paul Waterhouse. Over the years, the building has undergone various extensions and rebuilds. The most recent refurbishment was initiated in 2014. The university invested a staggering £7.6M to turn the existing structure into a modern, inspirational learning environment. This radical transformation included demolition of a rear annexe, re-surfacing of the roof, restoration of rooms to their original grand proportions and various changes aimed at improving both environmental performance and accessibility.
To ensure safe access for all visitors, a new steel ramp was added to the entrance. The architects opted to use Q-railing products, including an LED-lit handrail, when creating an ultra-safe glass railing for the ramp. Specialists from Q-railing recommended the Easy Glass Max system. It is highly robust, meeting all the relevant safety requirements with ease, and yet provides a glazed area that is almost uninterrupted.
Dappat Engineering installed a total of 45 metres of Easy Glass Max glass railing, using 25.52 mm toughened glass. For added convenience, mounting was carried out using hexagon-head anchors, which allow for minor adjustments to be made without difficulty. A stainless handrail with added Q-lights Linear Lights illumination tops the balustrade. This LED handrail, which is attached to the glass infills with off-set brackets, is a stunning feature in its own right, as it creates a continuous stream of light on the ramp. However, the illumination also serves as a means of ensuring maximum safety for users.