The new build £15m entrance building for the performing and visual arts centre at Loughborough College has transformed the public gateway to the college through 180° and now faces the town centre.
Ben Harris of Willmott Dixon said: ‘The ambitious campus makeover has quite literally turned Loughborough College around. This highly visible public façade makes a clear statement about Loughborough College; modern, forward looking and confident.’’ The new building, known as the Hub, houses a restaurant alongside a visual and performance academy with professional facilities including industry standard music studios, a 250-seat theatre, textile rooms, photography studios and dark rooms.
The students, staff and visitors are now greeted with views of a curved brick cladding façade with 15 different colours of the CORIUM brick cladding system utilised. The system was selected by the architect at IBI Group UK, to replicate the spines of thousands of books within the interior of the first floor library. The architect chose the CORIUM system to instil a level of confidence that the delivered elevation would be crisp, precise and offer a high quality finish. This was achieved by specifying the CORIUM system in stack bond, with the whole brick façade changing in colour as the sun passes each day.
As Ben Harris of lead contractor Willmott Dixon explained, one of the project’s biggest challenges was the search for a brick finish with a colour scheme, which was acceptable to both the architect and planners: “There was a significant implication on getting the bricks approved by the planners. We had to provide a lot of brick samples in different colours before they were ultimately satisfied.” Discussions about the colour scheme spanned the design stages, initial discussions with planners lasted into the building phase, and threatened to put pressure on the partners working to a tight timescale – the entire project was completed within 58-weeks.
CORIUM goes up at real speed and provided a significant visual impact!
Matching the colour scheme wasn’t the only test facing the project partners on the Hub. Project surveyor Ben Harris outlined some of the other puzzles that had to be solved: “We had concerns over the structural loadings when considering the use of a brick cladding system, and which solution was the most cost effective.” said Ben Harris of Wilmott Dixon.
When all the planning and design requirements had been agreed on by the project partners, and the order quantities decided, the CORIUM cladding and the bricks provided provided the finish to the outside of the flagship Hub building.
After all the extensive negotiations leading up to installation, did the end result meet expectations? “Yes.” reported Ben Harris. “The facade looks great: the college and the architect were very happy. The CORIUM goes up at a real speed and provides a significant visual impact. Also, the backing rails provide a waterproof shell for the external envelope of the building which is very useful.” So, a challenging project, but one which ended in success.