The Build to Rent (BTR) sector has seen the development of a wide range of residential properties in London, with exceptional levels of quality in the design and specification and a variety of on-site facilities to attract both occupiers and investors. The success of BTR development and investment models as brought the sector north, where there is scope for prestige developments in stunning locations.
One such development recently completed by construction company, GRAHAM in Liverpool is The Copper House; a c.£100 million development for a Patten Properties and Panacea Property Development joint venture.
The project’s high profile and prominent location on Strand Street, along with the need to create an attractive, high-quality aesthetic to appeal to investors and occupiers, meant that every aspect of the specification had to be on point. The façade was particularly important in this regard because, not only is it the first, impactful image of the development, but it also sits directly opposite the Three Graces; the jewels in Liverpool’s architectural, commercial and historic heritage. The initial planning approval was for a natural black granite façade but, having used Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite system on previous projects, architects, Leach Rhodes Walker, revised the specification to SureClad® Ceramic Granite in a highly polished black/charcoal colourway. This has achieved the appearance of natural granite while providing lightweight panels, robust installation, excellent fire safety credentials and a durable solution that will retain its high-end aesthetic over time.
Complementing the Location
An imposing 16-storey development that will offer stunning views across Liverpool’s iconic waterfront, The Copper House lies adjacent to the city’s Liverpool One shopping and leisure destination. Alongside the 383 apartments within the building’s two towers, the project includes a private gym, private meeting rooms, a residents’ roof garden and 1,000 sq ft of commercial office space on the ground floor.
The Copper House has been designed to complement the heritage of its location. Martin Burrows, Director at Leach Rhodes Walker explains: “Liverpool’s waterfront is protected and combines imposing structures of varying architectural styles, both historic and modern. The redevelopment of the area around the Three Graces has prioritised high quality, contemporary design that allows the iconic historic buildings to retain their impact against a 21st century backdrop and the design for The Copper House considered the local architectural context and the water itself, along with the dark, reflective facades of nearby Mann Island.”
The original design brief for a natural granite façade aimed to deliver the quality expected for a development on this site while complementing the materiality of Mann Island. The Leach Rhodes Walker team knew from using Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite system before on various previous projects that the system could achieve a comparable appearance while offering improved performance, low maintenance and cost benefits.
Martin continues: “The Copper House is a waterfront development in a C4 coastal environment and it is located on a busy main road, so we needed a robust façade material that can withstand the harsh saline atmosphere, exposure to the elements and airborne contaminants. Shackerley’s Ceramic Granite is U/V resistant and non-porous, so it will not discolour or fade over time due to weathering, it will not fracture due to freeze/thaw effects and the panels are also resistant to algae growth and graffiti, making maintenance much easier and any cleaning requirements less frequent.”
After suggesting that Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite System should replace the original requirement for natural granite, Leach Rhodes Walker worked with cladding installation specialist, FK Facades Ltd and Graham Construction to submit a combined proposal to the client and the planning office. Shackerley provided samples and technical information to support the case for the change of specification and the switch was accepted.
Martin continues: “The change of materials made sound commercial sense and we were able to demonstrate that it also ensures the aesthetics of the finished building will be retained over time. Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite is tested and certified as A1 non-combustible to BS-EN 13501-1 and, even with the addition of anti-fragmentation mesh, the panels used are A2-s1 rated, ensuring the building complies with fire safety requirements for non-combustible cladding on residential buildings over 18m.”
The detailing required for The Copper House’s façade was extremely complex. The versatility of Shackerley’s SureClad® Ceramic Granite system, the company’s UK manufacturing facilities at its ISO 9001 accredited Lancashire factories, and its experienced technical team were also critical to the success of the façade specification and installation. Shackerley worked closely with FK Group, who developed the detailed façade design for the installation. Panels totalling, 2625m2 of SureClad® Ceramic Granite were supplied to site, with all panels prefabricated and pre-assembled prior to delivery.
“The façade for this project was very complex,” explains Rob Clarke, Associate Design Director for FK Facades Ltd, “Because of the interfaces between the Shackerley SureClad® panels and various other building envelope materials, including fire barriers, curtain walling and the pressed metal bands fitted to the subframe to create a design feature and colour contrast. Achieving neat and robust junctions required a detailed design process and, having worked with Shackerley on a number of previous projects, we knew that they would work with us during the design development process to test the design and help us validate it prior to installation.”
Following a meeting with the Shackerley team and pre-ordering of the ceramic granite material, FK Facades worked with the Shackerley team to create a full-sized mock-up of a corner detail to aid the delivery team’s understanding of how the junctions and interfaces would work on the façade and prove the buildability of the design. The model included a full-size pressed metal band which was installed on the model with the panels and flashings. The model was transported to Graham’s office’s for approval before full production of the panels began, with a phased production and delivery programme aligned to site requirements.
Rob continues: “Working collaboratively with Shackerley in the planning stages helped to ensure a smooth installation when we started work on site. We used standard large format 1198 x 598mm SureClad® panels along with a number of special sizes to complete detailing, and the Shackerley team helped us to optimise the layout to reduce any wastage.”
The installation required a structural steel framing system which was sheathed with sheathing board plus insulation prior to the installation of the curtain walling, the fire barriers and the pressed metal feature bands. The Shackerley SureClad® system was then installed to complete the façades, using Shackerley’s Queen’s Award winning SureClad® Access system, which allows non-sequential installation of the panels, as well as the removal and replacement of panels for maintenance/inspection purposes, without removal or damage to adjacent panels.
The Copper House is now been complete and has created a striking new landmark for Liverpool’s historic waterfront.
Neil Patten, managing director of Patten Properties and Panacea Property Development adds: “Our aim was to create an aspirational residential building so a façade with elegance and impact was a key part of that goal. The Shackerley SureClad® façade not only looks great now, but we know we can also be confident that it will continue to provide a high-quality aesthetic over time, as well as offering occupiers and investors peace of mind on fire safety.”