Construction Industry Today

Armstrong Atelier tops a world-class study space

Bespoke wall and ceiling panels from Armstrong Atelier feature 24/7 at the University of Manchester.
Published 01 March 2013

A new world-class, 21st Century, 24/7 study space at The University of Manchester features the first use in the UK of Armstrong Atelier's hook-on metal wall panels.

Perforated WH-1000 tiles feature on the top half and plain WH-1000 tiles feature on the bottom half of the vertical elements of the balcony floors lining the four-storey atrium at the £24milion Alan Gilbert Learning Commons. These are linked to a series of bespoke and demountable T-Clip F metal perforated ceiling planks by Armstrong's metal atrium upstands in 80% gloss and transition bulkheads in a variety of colours. Some of the planks in communal areas on the first and second floors feature an acoustic fleece, others 80% gloss to maximise light reflectance,

A total of 1,500m² were installed on the 5,614m² redevelopment, which has achieved a BREEAM HE Excellent rating, over nine months by a team of 30 from Armstrong-approved Omega specialist sub-contractor Sound Interiors for main contractor Wates Construction.

Designed by architects Sheppard Robson and managed by the University Library, the Learning Commons building boasts more than 1,000 flexible study spaces and an inspiring range of equipment and furnishings for individual and group study. There are 400 PCs, laptop charging lockers, 30 bookable group study rooms, Skype area and media screens for presentation and group work. The wifi available throughout the building extends to the space outside and to the ground-floor café which is open to the public.

Sheppard Robson's Jimi Estévez said: "The Armstrong systems offer concealment to services and provide considerable acoustic attenuation. They also reflect natural light deep into the building section due to the high gloss finish to the vertical panels in the atrium.

"They offer a clean, homogenous and seamless installation across different systems while catering for substantially different performance criteria on the various locations, from challenging open area ratios for ventilation to demanding acoustic performance and light reflectance values.

"The comprehensive systems Armstrong offers cater for all possible interfaces between their own systems and other common building components such as plasterboard or standard panelling systems."

He added: "Armstrong is a well-known brand which we are well aware of and familiar with but in this instance the contractor brought them to the table on a design and build contract due to the commercial benefits their systems offered to the construction process and programme."

Sound Interiors' Graham Flynn said: "This project was completely unique as it comprised a multitude of different bespoke products enabling horizontal to vertical transition."

The Learning Commons concept was first developed in the US and Australia to describe a building where students could get together and learn, either on an individual basis or by working collaboratively in groups.


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