Surrounded by residential properties and mature woodland, the building is constructed over three levels and conveys a deliberately powerful and robust form. Designed around a structural steel frame, two lower storeys of brickwork are punctuated by deep window reveals and colonnades at ground level, with the structure lightly topped by an upper storey of glazed curtain walling and cladding panels.
The challenge for architects, Collective Architecture, was to maintain the simplicity of the structure by continuing the brick facing of the facades to more than two hundred window head and colonnade soffits, without adding unnecessarily to the loading on the main steelwork frame or over complicating the build.
Brick support specialist, Ancon, and leading manufacturer of brickwork components, Ibstock Kevington, worked closely with the architects to develop a complete solution utilising Nexus®, an innovative range of lightweight brick faced soffit systems and lintels. Colonnade soffits to the two lower levels were constructed using Nexus brick faced support, a two-part system that combines Ancon’s high integrity stainless steel MDC brickwork support system with a lightweight prefabricated brick faced unit from Ibstock Kevington.
70% lighter than traditional precast concrete alternatives, the Nexus units provided the lightweight modular solution needed for the high profile soffit areas. Nexus lintels, comprising Ancon SC20H channel lintels lined to the lower edge with Ibstock brick slips, were used at all window heads.
Installed during construction of the structural steel frame, Nexus brick faced soffit units were bolted directly to Ancon MDC brickwork support systems, which were pre-fixed to the steel beams. Simple vertical and horizontal adjustment, inherent in the Nexus design, allowed the units to be adjusted to achieve perfect alignment with the main brickwork when completed.
Being lightweight, the Nexus soffit and lintel units could be lifted into position and fixed by hand, without the need for specialist lifting equipment, minimising both cost and disruption to the other trades on site. With brick slips manufactured by Ibstock from the same batch as the main brickwork and mortar added on site, the system provided a perfect colour and texture match, ensuring a flawless transition with the rest of the façade.
A total of 235 Nexus units were custom designed and prefabricated to meet requirements at all window and colonnade heads throughout the project.
“The Nexus system enabled us to meet our ambition for clean building lines and deep window reveals. The lightweight nature of the system meant that the recesses and soffits could be installed at the steelwork stage. We are delighted with the final outcome and enjoyed working with the Ibstock/Ancon team.”
Jude Barber, Architect-Director, Collective Architecture