Sapa windows used again on final phase of landmark Newcastle student accommodation

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A total of 770 windows from one of the largest suppliers of aluminium building systems in Europe, Sapa Building System, feature on Newcastle’s latest student accommodation addition, Verde. This is the fourth and final phase of the £250 million Downing Plaza development - the largest planning application to be granted in Newcastle for a generation. The same Sapa systems were used on the first phase of the development.

Located on the former Hill Court site adjacent to The University of Newcastle Business School, which was built by Downing in 2011, the new building named Verde has been designed by award-winning architects SimpsonHaugh. This striking landmark sets a new standard for student accommodation in Newcastle and comprises 431 cluster beds and 112 studios, making 543 in total.

Situated on the junction of Pitt Street and Wellington Street, Verde comprises two buildings that form a V-shape, creating a façade that runs parallel to both streets. A direct response to the site’s triangular nature and the parameters set out in the wider Science Central masterplan, Verde’s angular architectural design rises to a point at the northeast corner of the site. This marks the building’s main entrance and adds a dynamic focal point to a key junction into the city from the north.

The two structures are clad in a green glazed terracotta tile laid horizontally across both buildings with a selection of projecting tiles creating a sense of movement and signalling the development entrance. Dark blue brick is introduced at ground level where the facade has been recessed. SimpsonHaugh’s Project Architect, Jonathan Mallinson, explains the bold colour selection: “The bright green colour was chosen as both a counterpoint to the striking blue colouration of sister development ‘The View’ whilst responding to, and complementing, the natural earthy colour palette of the surrounding built context.”

For the glazing specification, the building was thermally modelled as part of the Part L Assessment, with the performance requirements for the windows generated by its outcomes and outlined by Desco (Building Services Engineer), in conjunction with the Downing.

As a result, façade specialist, Dane Architectural Systems Ltd installed 770 Sapa Building System window units, constructed primarily from Dualframe 75 Si TBT (Tilt/Turn) as well as fixed light Dualframe 75 Si Casement.

SimpsonHaugh’s Project Architect, Jonathan Mallinson, commented on the window installation, he said: “We are pleased with the simple clean and crisp lines of the Sapa profiles available to us. The window format and arrangement was chosen to align with the horizontal emphasis of the overall façade language. The windows were top hung, so when open, seek to mimic the shingle profile of the terracotta tiles within the façade.”

Dual colour finished, dark grey to the outside and white internally, Ian Bambridge, Estimating Manager at installer Dane Architectural Systems Ltd clarifies why this range was selected: “Of course, pleasing aesthetics were key but thermal and acoustic performance, security and especially the size of opening vents, in view of the fact that it is a student development, were especially important.

“The windows were required to perform better than current Part L2A building regulations and the Dualframe 75 Si range does just that.”

He adds: “For acoustic reasons, the high-performance glazing specification changes throughout the building. Various thicknesses of glass were used in different areas, for example to the back of house the requirement was lower than front elevations, which corner onto a busy road and needed higher specification glazing.”

“The tilt and turn windows are locked out of turn and are purely used for ventilation for safety reasons. Sapa systems met the specification for the project and are cost-effective, offering a higher performance window and real value for money.”

Commenting on the on-site installation, Downing Construction Project Manager Vic Spain said: “Verde is a concrete-framed building and the installation was undertaken floor by floor from the bottom of the building upwards to accommodate the nature of concrete construction methods. The SFS wall went in first followed by the windows. We’ve worked with Dane Architectural Systems and used Sapa windows on other developments, so the window installation was a smooth process, taking just 20 weeks to complete.”

As a range, the Dualframe 75mm Si windows offer advanced polyamide thermal break technology, providing high thermal performance without the need to resort to complex and costly sealed unit specifications. Tailed gaskets and centre seal reduce thermal radiation and mean that costly foam inserts into the profiles are not needed. Part of Sapa’s Secured by Design range, Dualframe 75mm Si windows are BS7950 accredited, with external beading requiring no additional components.

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