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TERREAL UK - Terracotta Overcladding Breathes New Life Into Manchester Tower Blocks

Faced with 11 aging and energy inefficient residential tower blocks in Hulme, City South Manchester Housing Trust had a dilemma: demolish and re-build or refurbish and upgrade? After considering all the available options, the Trust decided to refurbish the existing towers using 7,500m2 of Terreal’s Blizzard terracotta rainscreen cladding for much of the external façade, which was specified and supplied by Lancashire Brick and Tile Ltd.

Having made the decision to refurbish, the Trust’s two key aims for Phase One were to improve the appearance of the multi-storey blocks and to bring their energy efficiency up to the standards of the 21st Century. Wates Living Space secured the contract for Phase One of the £25m three-phased project which included over-cladding four of the towers. Architect, 2E of Manchester, stated that their strategy for St. Georges Court, Thomas Court, Westcott Court and Ledburn Court was to “retrofit an architectural rebranding of four 1960’s apartment towers to create a substantive innovative visual identity”.

Like many other projects of this type, the design team decided to use external cladding because it could significantly improve the appearance of the buildings and at the same time provide the necessary thermal insulation. Another major consideration the client decided to go for an overcladding refurbishment was the fact the tenants could remain in situ whilst the works were carried out around them with little or no upheaval. They chose Terreal Blizzard for its versatility and sustainability, presenting the ideal solution for the project team to achieve the client’s key aims.

Blizzard is a small dimension, single skin terracotta rainscreen façade system, which is equally suitable for new build and refurbishment projects. It is easier to install and therefore more cost-effective than many other long dimension products with overlapping horizontal joints. The overlapping section of the Blizzard and its closed vertical joints resist water ingress and the fixing system combined whilst achieving solidity of the terracotta panels ensures a high resistance to wind-load. Another important feature for this project was the adaptability of the fixing system; a T-shaped aluminum profile with a rubber gasket and aluminum clips which can either be clipped or screwed into the profile enabled quick and efficient on-site installation.

Terreal will be a familiar name to many roofing contractors through their range of clay roof tiles which have been available in the UK for many years,. However, following great success in their native France and across Europe, the Company launched it’s range of terracotta rainscreen products in the UK two years ago. Despite the economic climate both the Blizzard system and the Piterak SLIM system, which is available in sizes up to 500mm X 1500mm at just 30mm thickness (but also can produce tiles on request up to 1800mm long) have proved popular with architects and installers alike.

Architects like the choice of colours, Terreal can replicate almost any colour, they also like the sustainability credentials of both of Terreal’s rainscreen systems. While contractors are always keen to fix rainscreen as easy to install as this and they particularly like the flexibility of being able to source their own fixing brackets, rather than being tied in to the high-priced brackets supplied by many other terracotta systems.

With an ever growing specification bank, Terreal’s immediate problem is finding enough competent installers in certain areas to keep up with the rate of new specifications. Martin Fewtrell, Sales Director for the UK said, “Blizzard and Piterak SLIM are proving very popular with architects and clients alike. Our aim for the future is to build upon our success in the UK and continue to grow with the support of our Distributors Lancashire Brick & Tile and Roy Geddes Bricks and our installer network.”

Back in Hulme, it’s worth remembering that as well as having a positive impact on the environment; good insulation also reduces heating costs which really affects people’s lives. Doreen Nelid, a resident of Westcott Court said “My flat was cold and noisy, but this work has made a huge difference. Now it’s quieter, warmer and I don’t have to use the heating as much. I’ve noticed an immediate difference. The flats look amazing as well, much more in keeping with the modern buildings surrounding us. Once again, I can be really proud to say I live here.”

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Rainscreen cladding Facade systems Terracotta cladding Ventilated facades

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