Designing a new student accommodation and learning centre for international students at the University of East Anglia (UEA), LSI Architects wanted to create a modern structure that would reflect the global character of its users. They settled upon a gracefully curved form based on a Chinese lantern. To achieve the exterior effect, they specified rainscreen cladding held in place with an innovative adhesive fix solution from global building product manufacturer Sika.

Part of a wider development of the university’s buildings being masterplanned by LSI Architects, the £23 million International Centre project has seen the construction of a building that will be home to students from around the world. A combination of residential accommodation, teaching and laboratory spaces and lecture halls, it provides young international students with a foundation year to perfect their English and acclimatise to life at the university. Structured around an enclosed courtyard to achieve the Chinese lantern effect, the development, delivered by main contractor R. G. Carter, has already won a coveted NAA Craftsmanship Award for its innovative design.

The curves and brightly coloured panels of the frontage of the building were of key importance in achieving the unique effect. A combination of Trespa Meteon HPL and cement based Petrarch cladding panels were selected for their versatility and colour. To provide a seamless fix of the Petrarch cladding, congruent with the concrete finishes elsewhere on the UEA campus, Sika’s innovative secret fix SikaTack Panel Adhesive was specified.

Utilising elastic bonding technology, SikaTack Panel Adhesive requires no mechanical parts for installation. This allows for the fixing of panels without unsightly bolts or fittings visible on the exterior, creating a smooth and flowing appearance to buildings and greatly enhanced aesthetic appeal. The high strength adhesive system is more cost effective and easier to use than secret mechanical fix methods and also prevents cold bridging. Suitable for composites, ceramics, laminates and cement based cladding, the extraordinarily versatile adhesive can also be used on a range of metals and powder coated substrates.

At the UEA project, the SikaTack Panel Adhesive was used in conjunction with a cladding support system from Eurofox Engineering. A vertically orientated bracket and rail system, the company’s MTK system is specifically designed for structurally bonded secret fix installations.

SikaTack Panel Adhesive makes for hassle free installation of cladding. Following the cleaning of surfaces, a primer was applied to the points of contact between the Petrarch panels and the Eurofox Engineering aluminium rails. An extremely strong Sika Fixing Tape was then applied to hold the panels in place temporarily and SikaTack Panel Adhesive applied.

Combined, the SikaTack Panel Adhesive and Eurofox Engineering system proved an effective and highly workable method of installation. Together they offer a long lasting means of securing rainscreen cladding that is capable of bearing high load weights and stresses. Usable on a wide range of cladding materials, both products have achieved BBA (British Board of Agrement) certification.

Now complete, the project provides a secure yet enjoyable environment for students to accustom themselves to living away from their families. Officially inaugurated and now home to 300+ students, the Chinese lantern boasts an impressive and stylish exterior thanks to the remarkable SikaTack Panel Adhesive and Eurofox Engineering’s ingenious engineering support.

For further information on Sika’s range of products visit or for  general enquiries including technical, on or off site support, please call 0800 1123863.

Note: Photographs copyright of Blue Pearl Photographic and LSI Architects LLP. Credit to Blue Pearl Photographic and LSI Architects LLP must be included where images are used.

There are currently no comments for this article.

Login to comment. slider