Monday 6th January 2020

Posted by Kate Withstandley

Happy New Year from vHH Architects!

Happy New Year from vHH Architects!

In 2020 we look forward to progressing our Passivhaus Creative Arts building in Cambridge, to transforming the 1920s former GPO Rugby Radio Station into a secondary school for Houlton and to digging a great big hole(!) by the walls of Leicester Cathedral.

Wishing you all the best for 2020.

1 – Cross-laminated timber (CLT) - CLT has strong environmental credentials and provides a robust and very airtight structure, with the lowest embodied CO2 of the structural materials. We’re always keen to propose it where it’s a good fit for a project – like at the New Ark building for St Benedict’s School, or the Creative Arts Hub building for St Mary’s School.

2 – Foamglas Perinsul – A cellular glass load-bearing insulation that we’re putting to use to prevent thermal bridging in our Passivhaus projects. Very expensive, but essential when you need decent thermal breaks through load bearing masonry.

3 – Rugby Radio Station One of the residual objects from the 1960’s equipment removed from the former GPO transmitter station as part of our enabling works – we think a glazed ceramic stay insulator. We are converting this building as part of the new Secondary School at Houlton, for Urban & Civic PLC.

4 – Woollen upholstery fabric – Choosing the right internal finishes is always crucial to the success of our buildings, like the varied textures and surfaces used to fine-tune the acoustics of the Whitty Theatre for Luckley House School.

5 – Ruabon Tile – A fragment from enabling works demolition at the Rugby Radio Station, where these tiles are used both as a decorative course in the brickwork facades. Unlike the bricks, which came from nearby, still manufactured, so we will reinstate historic masonry using the same detail.

6 – Glass reinforced concrete – The historic timber cornice around the Transmission Block of the Rugby Radio Station was painted to look like the lower, stone, cornice of the stair tower, and was destroyed by fire in 1943. As part of our restoration of the facades we are reinstating it in glass reinforced concrete, which will be durable in its exposed position – c.18m above ground level – and look appropriate.

7 – Forbo linoleum pinboard – A favourite internal finish of ours – useful, vibrant, and made from natural linseed oil, rosin and cork. Makes classrooms smell nice…and lasts a long time.

8 – Painted and timber nuts – scavenged from the enabling works demolition at the Rugby Radio Station. The historic paint is lead-based, and thus all being removed: the painted bolts have allowed us to match the exact BS colours of the historic steelwork for the replacement paint.

9 – Vintage Brick – A salvaged ‘Jacobean’ facing brick, used in the 1936 extension of the Rugby Radio Station. We have salvaged these, and the original 1929 ‘Buckley Junction’ bricks, for repairs to the retained historic façades – but if you know a source for more, please let us know!.

10 – Textured glass – The original Power Hall windows have a slightly textured glass that contributes a distinct character to the interior, which we are repurposing as the new Houlton Schools assembly and dining halls. We are replacing (and reinstating) the original windows, to provide an adequate thermal envelope, but with frame sections and double glazing – including this modern textured glass.

11 – Compacfoam – A specialist rigid thermoplastic insulation we’re using to cut thermal bridging out of our details, particularly at windows and door thresholds.

12 – Grey-brown Brick – Traditional masonry can be a great option for all sorts of projects and will feature in many of our projects this year. This one is a candidate for our facades at the passivhaus Creative Arts Hub for St Mary’s School in Cambridge.

13 – Ancon Teplo-L-Tie  - a super low thermal conductivity wall tie made from pultruded basalt fibres, which we’re using to minimise thermal bridging in our passivhaus projects – and those which are approaching that level of performance.

14 – Copper finishes – a selection of the copper alloys we’re choosing from as we look for the perfect cladding for our projects at Leicester Cathedral, St Mary’s School, and more.

15 - Cor-ten weathering steel panel – weathering steels were developed to eliminate the need for painting, as they form a stable and attractive rusted coating after exposure to weather, which prevents further corrosion. One on the wish list for 2020.

16 & 17– Ancaster weatherbed buff and Kilkenny fossil – pale and dark limestones, which will be used to create pattern within the new step-free floor in Leicester Cathedral – making it accessible and hiding nearly all the new services routes.

18 – Burnished brass window frame – a beautiful and energy efficient window system under consideration for our extension to the Grade II* Leicester Cathedral – and the new internal lobbies to the historic doors.

19 – Faience - a glazed terracotta sample, part of our selection process to select the right glaze and finish for the façades of our extension to Leicester Cathedral.

20 – Northumberland Buff – a robust and durable sandstone, this is a small mock-up panel exploring the vertically grooved finish that will be used on principal elevations of the Heritage Learning Centre extension at Leicester Cathedral, inspired by 1570’s detailing at the ruined Lyveden New Bield.


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