Simple crisp clean lines

Windows from Sapa Building System feature on Newcastle’s latest student accommodation – Verde. This is the fourth and final phase of the £250 million Downing Plaza development, the largest planning application to be granted in Newcastle for a generation. The same Sapa systems were used on the first phase of the development.

Located on the former Hill Court site adjacent to The University of Newcastle Business School, which was built by Downing in 2011, the new building was designed by architects SimpsonHaugh. It comprises 431 cluster beds and 112 studios, making 543 in total.

Situated on the junction of Pitt Street and Wellington Street, Verde includes two buildings that form a V-shape, creating a facade that runs parallel to both streets. A direct response to the site’s triangular nature and the parameters set out in the wider Science Central masterplan, Verde’s angular architectural design rises to a point at the northeast corner of the site. This marks the building’s main entrance and adds a dynamic focal point to a key junction into the city from the north.

The two structures are clad in a green-glazed terracotta tile laid horizontally across both buildings with a selection of projecting tiles creating a sense of movement and signalling the development entrance. Dark blue brick is introduced at ground level where the facade has been recessed.

SimpsonHaugh’s project architect Jonathan Mallinson said: “The bright green colour was chosen as both a counterpoint to the striking blue colouration of sister development ‘The View’ while responding to, and complementing, the natural earthy colour palette of the surrounding built context.”

For the glazing specification, the building was thermally modelled as part of the Part L Assessment, with the performance requirements for the windows generated by its outcomes and outlined by Desco (building services engineer), in conjunction with the Downing.

As a result, Dane Architectural Systems installed 770 Sapa Building System window units, constructed primarily from Dualframe 75 Si TBT (tilt and turn) as well as fixed light Dualframe 75 Si Casement.

“We are pleased with the simple clean and crisp lines of the Sapa profiles available to us,” Jonathan said. “The window format and arrangement was chosen to align with the horizontal emphasis of the overall facade language. The windows were top hung, so when open, seek to mimic the shingle profile of the terracotta tiles within the facade.”

Dual colour finished, dark grey to the outside and white internally, Ian Bambridge, estimating manager at Dane, explained why this range was selected: “Of course, pleasing aesthetics were key but thermal and acoustic performance, security, and especially the size of opening vents, in view of the fact that it is a student development, were especially important.

“The windows were required to perform better than current Part L2A building regulations and the Dualframe 75 Si range does just that.

“For acoustic reasons, the high-performance glazing specification changes throughout the building. Various thicknesses of glass were used in different areas, for example to the back of house the requirement was lower than front elevations, which corner onto a busy road and needed higher specification glazing.

“The tilt and turn windows are locked out of turn and are purely used for ventilation for safety reasons. Sapa systems met the specification for the project and are cost-effective, offering a higher performance window and real value for money.”

Downing Construction project manager Vic Spain said: “Verde is a concrete-framed building and the installation was undertaken floor by floor from the bottom of the building upwards to accommodate the nature of concrete construction methods. The SFS wall went in first followed by the windows. We’ve worked with Dane Architectural Systems and used Sapa windows on other developments, so the window installation was a smooth process, taking just 20 weeks to complete.”