A Sure thing: engineered stone cladding solution boosts student living


SHACKERLEY’S SureClad engineered stone system has reportedly brought benefits to a Glasgow student living scheme.

Constructed by Watkin Jones, a contractor that has built more than 28,000 student living units over the past 20 years, the St Mungo’s student accommodation development has been built directly opposite the City of Glasgow College’s City Campus on a site acquired after planning permission had already been secured.

“Acquiring the site with planning permission already in place meant we could fast track the project,” explained the project manager from Watkins Jones. “However, we needed to refine the design from a buildability perspective without changing the external aesthetic. We were also keen to ensure that the cladding system specified for the project offered proven fire resistance to support high safety standards.

“Shackerley’s SureClad engineered stone system in lightly speckled cream colourway matched the aesthetic of the original façade spec that had been passed through the planning department. Very importantly, (the) system is Class A2/S1 rated fire resistance in accordance with BS-EN 13501-1, which means that it’s ideal for all high-rise buildings, including residential projects over 18 metres high.”

The Watkin Jones design team re-worked the original internal layout of the project and changed the fenestration package. The original cladding design featured a pre-cast concrete cladding to provide aesthetic synergy with surrounding concrete structures, but the weight of using large format concrete panels presented health and safety and buildability challenges. Knowing the pre-cast concrete system may have required riveted additional fixings to avoid the risk of panels falling from height, the team worked with the project’s cladding subcontractor to consider alternatives.

“Alongside the risks associated with installing the heavy concrete panels at height, the prospect of installing rivets that would be visible on the exterior of the façade raised aesthetic questions too,” added Watkins Jones’ project manager. “We needed an alternative that would provide the right aesthetic for architectural context, while offering the right practical qualities and the Shackerley SureClad engineered stone system ticked the boxes on all counts.”

Watkin Jones elected to use the system in two cream-coloured finishes; a honed natural finish and a textured ‘gritblasted’ finish. To add further variety to the façade, the panels were supplied in various sizes, with most ranging from 2692mm x 77mm up to 2962 x 1138mm, with an additional two exceptionally large 3000 x 1240mm panels.

Brian G Newell, chief executive of Shackerley commented, “One of the many advantages of our pre-fabricated SureClad engineered stone range is that the material is relatively lightweight yet very robust. As a result, we can currently produce panels of virtually any size, including supersized panels of up to 3050mm x 1240mm x 20mm. The St Mungo’s project demonstrates the advantages of that design flexibility.”

Despite the change of specification and the short lead times that had to be met as a result, Shackerley said it was able to meet the demands of the project and the tight programme, pre-fabricating all panels and special details at the company’s dedicated ISO 9001 accredited production plant in Lancashire.

The building’s complex shape and fenestration design meant there were more than 100 different panel types, with each panel required to meet the needs of the detailed installation plan and sequence on site. There were also a number of panels with mounted reveals, which were prefabricated by Shackerley to ensure a ‘smooth’ installation process on site.

The SureClad engineered stone cladding system was installed using Shackerley’s SureClad Hang On installation system, which allows the panels to be fitted into position on horizontal rails and provides full support while they are being levelled. This is said to ensure a safer installation on site, and meant all fixings were hidden from view to create a ‘seamless’ external façade with no visible fixings.

Many of the SureClad panels were fabricated by Shackerley in just a few days to fast track the installation and enable student occupation on time.

Shackerley said use of the ventilated façade system meant that the new building used less concrete, while offering the benefits of a ‘robust’ façade system with proven fire resistance to a recognised European standard now enshrined in law.