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Student accommodation: glazing for the next gen

Andrew Cooper from Senior Architectural Systems discusses the benefits that aluminium can bring to student accommodation

Posted by Lucinda Reid | January 04, 2018 | Bricks & mortar

As universities compete to attract the very best students, the accommodation they provide must make the grade. Consequently, universities are looking at alternative materials to ensure that their accommodation excels. Here’s why aluminium windows, doors and curtain walling would work well in student residential schemes.

Reducing maintenance costs

The very nature of student residences means that maintenance requirements are a top priority for the developer. The quality of the accommodation available plays a key role in helping students decide where to study so it is vital that the building envelope is built to last.

As well as its aesthetic appeal, aluminium significantly outperforms other types of framing material in terms of its durability.  Hard wearing and robust, aluminium fenestration systems can not only help to reduce cyclical maintenance costs but with many products offering a guarantee of upwards of 30 years, can also make a positive contribution to managing the overall lifecycle costs of the building.

Desirable design schemes

The new generation of high-specification, purpose-built residential schemes is a far cry from the days of dark, damp and gloomy student digs. Although student rooms are generally seen as temporary abodes and so follow a different design code to other residential schemes, daylighting is still vitally important. The slim sightlines offered by aluminium windows help create bright and comfortable interiors, maximising the flow of light into bedrooms that are often used as both living and study areas. Similarly, the use of aluminium frame doors and curtain walling is an effective way to open up entrances and communal areas.

Home comforts

As well as looking good from the outside, it’s vital to create a comfortable and pleasant internal environment that is cost-effective to maintain. With many new student accommodation schemes aspiring to achieve top BREEAM targets, the specification of low U-value glazing systems, such as Senior’s patented PURe® aluminium windows and doors, can help to create comfortable interior temperatures and reduce heating costs for the tenants. Thermally-efficient systems can also significantly reduce the risk of condensation build up which is a common problem in this sector owing to students drying laundry indoors and communal kitchen and bathrooms being frequently used.

Acoustic performance

An added benefit of aluminium window, door and curtain walling systems that offer increased thermal efficiency is enhanced acoustic performance.

To attract students, location is everything and schemes that benefit from central and convenient locations, close to both campus, transport links, shops and of course pubs, will always be more popular.  So that external noise doesn’t disturb the students and to minimise noise breakout from within, the acoustic performance of the building envelope is vitally important.

Safe and secure

For many students, university will be their first taste of living alone and so offering a safe and secure environment that provides peace of mind is a major attraction.

The intrinsic strength of aluminium frame windows and doors provides increased security and the best quality products, like those offered by Senior Architectural Systems, are fully tested to PAS 24 and achieve compliance with the recently launched Approved Document Q code.

As accidents associated with falls from windows are commonplace in this sector and the design of many accommodation schemes feature multiple storeys with windows at varying heights, this important safety issue must be addressed at the initial design stage. The use of window restrictors can provide protection from falls but still allow windows to be opened for ventilation.  Additionally, the installation of external mesh panels, used in conjunction with opening-in windows, can improve safety. These panels can also incorporate bespoke and aesthetically pleasing design details, bringing another dimension to the architectural impact of the building façade. 

Andrew Cooper is national specification manager at leading fenestration designer and manufacturer Senior Architectural Systems

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