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Sapa shows design flare in Nottingham

The Discovery Building boasts a unique artwork: aluminium tubes embedded with fibre optic lights responding to NASA's measurement of solar flares

Posted by Julian Owen | February 06, 2018 | Bricks & mortar

Located in the city’s Eastside district, the Discovery Building is part of the University of Nottingham’s BioCity development and has been part funded by the East Midlands Development Agency, working with Nottingham City Council and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Fund, which contributed £6.5 million. And its new sculpture has a similarly striking backdrop, in the form of a high-performance glazing system from Sapa Building System, part of Hydro Building Systems UK.

The Discovery Building houses Sygnature Discovery - the UK's largest independent provider of integrated drug discovery programmes – across four floors, and features high-tech biology and chemistry laboratories. Other facilities include meeting rooms, reception services, shared breakout space and a coffee shop. The project is predicted to protect 250 bioscience jobs in Nottingham, and bring some 700 more over the next 30 years.

Willmott Dixon was the main contractor for the construction of the building, designed by local architectural practice, CPMG. The specialist fabricator employing the Sapa NRGY62 system was Bonam and Berry, also based in the city.

The main area of glazed façade is 45 metres long and 15 metres tall, made up of Sapa NRGY62 fixed lights measuring up to 4000mm wide by 1500mm high. The 34 mm thick St Gobain solar control glazing offers a centre pane value of 1.0 W/m2K, procured from System 3 Ltd.

The NRGY62 system is not only designed to achieve U-values down to PassivHaus standards, but is also able to sustain very heavy loads. This is thanks to its mullion/transom PIN system, allowing for glazed surface areas of up to 12m², weighing up to 680Kg.

The Project Architect for CPMG, Matt Greenhalgh, commented: “The Sapa system proved very adaptable, while Bonam and Berry were proactive in coming up with ideas to realise our aspirations for the glazing. At the corner of the building for instance, they volunteered the idea of putting a glass fin behind rather than a mullion – which was a great design-led solution.

“In addition, because of the wide, large format units and the heavy glass, it needed the system to provide extra structural support or diagonal bracing. For the glass-to-glass junctions at high level, Bonam and Berry used a special rod to tie the transoms together, which provides a very attractive, bespoke finish.

“This is a flagship building in a really important part of Nottingham, which we hope will be a catalyst to kick-start the regeneration of the city’s Eastside zone. Furthermore, it helps secure high quality, high value jobs in a very important sector for Nottingham.”

Councillor Jon Collins, Leader for Nottingham City Council and Portfolio Holder for Strategic Regeneration, said: “This building, made possible by the City Council and local enterprise partnership, D2N2, recognises the importance of bioscience to our local economy; and it will provide the chance for fledgling companies and the next generation of entrepreneurs to expand, by making use of a range of high-tech chemistry and biology laboratories. The building will cement Nottingham’s position as the UK’s fastest growing life sciences community.”

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