An education in multitasking

The 8,500m2 former Herman Miller factory on the banks of the Kennet and Avon Canal in Bath has been transformed into a new School of Art and Design for Bath Spa University, with help fromStructura UK.

Originally designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw in 1976 and Grade II listed in 2013, the architects returned 40 years later to convert the factory into a bright, functional and flexible space.

As part of the conversion, Structura UK worked with main contractors Willmott Dixon on the complete building envelope, from the entrances and glazing through to repairs, refinishing and creating a complete new glass top floor.

To renew the classic GRP panels, Structura installed two spraying booths on site to remove the panels and then sand, recoat, respray and replace. The ability to set up dynamic on-site spraying booths complete with extraction venting saved time and money as well as minimising the risk of transporting and damage to the aged panels.

The glazing throughout the building was also replaced by Structura, which included sourcing bespoke gaskets from Germany that needed to match the original.

The result is a series of spaces that are visually connected but also allow for privacy. The clean sharp steel and concrete interior is complemented by the flowing panels on the exterior while the new roof top extension is set back from edge of the building to avoid being obtrusive.

The project is an example of how Structura’s various divisions can collaborate to provide a one-stop-shop for the complete renewal of facades, the company said.

The ability to design, fabricate and install replacement glazing, along with cladding refurbishment and refinishing, creates a seamless project management workflow and reduces costs and time spent on site. It also negates the need to use several different contractors.