share a common theme in terms of their approach,” notes the architect. “They all have a significant amount of relief in their facade,”he continues, “This can be in the form of a bay window, perimeter balcony, column or pier.”


In keeping with the area’s rich architectural heritage, Garden Halls’ facades have been meticulously designed to provide a striking counterpoint to the building’s adjacent garden square.

BRINGING UP THE REAR The rear facade is flatter with a much shallower relief, and a mix of brindled bricks was chosen


Gross external floor area: 59,831m2 Construction cost per m2

: £2,340

Executive architect: tp bennett Facade architect: Maccreanor Lavington Clients: The University of London and University Partnership Programme

Structural engineer: Cundall M&E consultant: Cundall Quantity surveyor: McBains Cooper Planning consultant: CBRE Cost consultant: McBains Cooper Main contractor: Brookfield Multiplex Brickwork Contractor: Thorp Precast

Brick Manufacturer: Wienerberger Brick: Ashley Red, Oakington, Pagus Red

Maccreanor Lavington worked as an integral member of the design team, prepar- ing detailed design intent information that was incorporated into the Employer’s Requirements as tender. Following the appointment of Multiplex as the main contractor and Thorp Precast as the specialised sub-contractor, Maccreanor Lavington stayed client side and worked in partnership with executive architect, tp bennett, Multiplex’s design managers and the design team at Thorp to oversee the design, manufacture and installation of the facade. A buff water-struck Petersen brick is the key cladding material, offset by white reconstituted stone, glazed terracotta cills and a two-storey mansard. The upper five storeys consist of a series of stepped brick piers and frames over various window openings gathered together to form a verti- cal order over the facade. The ground and first floor are grouped to form a single base to the building, with brickwork piers rusti- cated by recessing every fifth course. “The facade sits behind new painted metal railings that match those within the surrounding square,” explains the architect. The new double-height entrance is lined with panels to the side, with walls and floor of stone mosaic, inlaid with brass letters and lit by large brass coloured pendent fittings designed by Tom Dixon. The Leigh Street corner building is expressed as a pair of simple punched brick elevations, with darker water-struck bricks to match the local ‘sooted’ aesthetic. The windows have reconstituted stone surrounds, and the brick sits on a single- storey stone base echoing the 1950s buildings.

At the North end of Sandwich Street there is restricted access to a large internal courtyard, where a combination of standard white Portland reconstituted stone panels were installed to the lower two levels and light buff brickwork to the upper levels, all intended to maximise light reflection to the accommodation blocks looking into the


Finnan summarises the building’s key attributes: “The main facade facing Cartwright Gardens is a highly articulated and finely crafted brick building, made from high quality materials and featuring simple, crisp detailing.”

Utilising offsite manufacturing techniques with precisely executed detail, the facade is indistinguishable, apart from some well concealed panel joints, from hand-set brick. The principal rear elevation along Sandwich Street presented a slightly differ- ent challenge in that the facade is flatter with a much shallower relief. A large expanse of brickwork, punctuated by regimented window openings, made panel joints harder to conceal. These bricks are characterised by a mix of brindled colours, and had to be carefully placed in the moulds to achieve the desired effect. Casting your eye along the full length of the completed elevation therefore gives the immediate impression of controlled consis- tency, with the brickwork occasionally broken by slender white concrete window surrounds that are an integral part of the storey-height panels.

Precast panels

There are some 1,100 precast panels incor- porating four types of brick across the entire scheme. Thorp Precast assumed full responsibility for the scheduling and procurement of all the bricks, preparing them individually, and ensuring they were cast onto precast concrete backing in a way that provided a monolithic look. All the panels were supplied to the site fully finished and factory-pointed on specially adapted trailers. As the facade was initially designed for traditional hand-laid brickwork, one of the key factors in adopt- ing a precast approach was the need to conceal panel joints, while maintaining a nominal 10 mm joint between panels. “What is interesting about the offsite method is how the techniques and refine- ment of the technology has allowed us to do something quite crafted, such as the steps and the reveals, in what is actually a monolithic way,” says Finnan. “All the brick elements are load-bearing to the ground and there aren’t massive joints in between, which gives the brick an almost stone-like, carved appearance.” Thorp manufactured the vertically emphasised corbelled brickwork mullion units as individual three-storey high units in the form of elongated ‘T’s, weighing 12 tonnes.


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