Specially-adapted façade systems from Wicona have been specified for a new £26m library – a magnificent and inspirational undergraduate facility for the University of Leeds, one of the largest universities in the UK.
The 6,500sqm state-of-the-art learning hub will help the University attract more students in an increasingly competitive higher education environment and provides a major cultural centre to enrich the student experience and the wider community. It is a new gateway to the University, and its design is a bold and confident statement for the future of the institution.
Designed by ADP, the scheme occupies a sensitive location in a conservation area, surrounded by listed buildings including two churches and in a streetscape that has remained almost unchanged in 50 years. It is the fourth building on a challenging teardrop-shaped site, and its design had to be developed with careful articulation and considered fenestration to the façades.
The four-storey library features stepped façades to the north and south elevations that unlock a series of generous public spaces. It was conceived as a ribbon of learning around a central circulation and internal study space. Each floor plate steps up towards the south of the site and the internal atrium.
Portland stone cladding adds weight to the building and helps to present it as a place of importance to the University, complemented by extensive use of glass constructed from Wicona’s WICTEC 50SG structural glazing.
The curtain walling was designed to create an even distribution of light and an elegant appearance, as an alternative to punched openings or a grid across the building envelope. Large, flush picture windows were also formed using the Wicona WICTEC system, providing dramatic, panoramic views across the campus and the cityscape.
A ‘veil’ of anodised aluminium vertical fins floats in front of the glazing and the stone cladding for optimum solar shading to the east and west elevations, whilst allowing key and oblique views and unifying the façade elements.
The WICTEC 50SG structurally glazed system created a flush glass finish and was specially adapted for the project to anchor the solar shading fins. It also had to meet stringent acoustic requirements and a rating of Rw DB 38 because of the building’s city centre location and the impact of high traffic levels.
Commenting on the project, Torsten Bauszus, Senior Architect at ADP, said, “This was a complex scheme located in a historic and urban context so the building envelope required very high quality, bespoke materials and design detailing.”
“The Wicona curtain walling had to meet a number of stringent specification criteria, including aesthetics, thermal and structural performance, and a high level of noise protection. It was also critical that the glazing was sufficiently robust to support the vertical blades for solar shading and that the connections could be integrated and carefully engineered. We are really pleased with how the glazing is performing. Wicona’s systems delivered our expectations and we will be specifying them for future projects.”
The curtain walling was finished in bronze anodising externally and light champagne internally.
Wicona’s WICLINE 90SG opening vents were inserted into the curtain walling to naturally ventilate the stair core, and WICSTYLE 75 aluminium doors were used for two entrances on the ground floor and for access to the roof where there are 50,000 bees living in hives.
This is a sustainable building which is constructed to a BREEAM ‘excellent’ standard with low energy passive design and renewable energy generation. There was also robust thermal detailing to the envelope to deliver energy efficiency, as well as a sharp and contemporary appearance that reflects the ambition, vision and values of the University.
The four-storey building on the city centre campus accommodates more than 1,000 individual study places; 5km of linear space for 150,000 books; facilities for collaborative group learning; community classrooms to host outreach work with local schools and colleges; a café, courtyard and galleries for artwork and collections on public display.
Engineered in Germany, Wicona’s WICTEC curtain walling suite has been used extensively for complex façade projects in both the UK and across the world. It has a wide range of structural aluminium profiles to accommodate vertical, angled, sloped and faceted glazing for optimum creative freedom and performance. There are options for structural and unitised glazing, and enhanced security, fire protection and bullet resistance for visual consistency across a building envelope.