Proteus Cladding at Imperial College

Proteus Facades have created striking perforated panels with TECU brass and a Capisco patinated finish in order to form a dynamic aesthetic, which is being used on Imperial College’s new Molecular Sciences Research Hub in London.

The concrete façade combines with Proteus Facades’ perforated cladding and the triple-glazed curtain walling on the Hub in order for them all to fuse together. As a result, they outwardly portray what the Hub, an innovative research facilities organisation, does on the inside of the building.

Aukett Swanke made the decision to choose Capisco’s CAP 55 finish for the Proteus SC perforated panels early on in the design process. The reasoning behind this was that they were looking to complement the flat bare concrete façade with the glazed elements.

The CAP 55 effect was applied by hand by the patination specialist Capisco. As a result, this gave the Proteus SC TECU Brass perforated panels an enhanced flow, an enhanced feel and an enhanced texture. The appearance of the perforated and patinated panels will occasionally change based on the level of sunlight and also the angle at which they are viewed from. The end result becomes a strikingly beautifully aesthetic that appears to both move and shimmer across the visually flat façade beneath the building.

In addition, the perforated panels seamlessly transition through the entrance glazing in order to form a striking feature within the atrium entrance. As a result, this creates an impressive solar composition, which is accentuated by spotlights when people viewing the building cast their eyes upwards.

Commenting on the project, Elias Niaza, design principal at Aukett Swanke stated: “The contrast between the concrete, glass and patinated brass couldn’t be more complementary and, with it, pleasing to the eye. The visual outcomes on this project have exceeded expectations. The perforated patterns on the brass panels with artistic patinations add a sense of mystery and mirror the innovative research works carried out inside the building.

Elias added: “We specified Proteus SC because we liked the wide panels of its TECU Brass perforated system, as well as the company’s ability to work with Capisco on what is a completely bespoke cladding solution.”

Proteus Facades again worked with Capisco in order to create a matching patinated finish, as well as manufacturing the window flashings for the Hub. This was initially conceived as a simple window flashing, but during the project, Proteus had to overcome what proved to be a real technical challenge: the profile of the window reveal happens to be a narrow box which tapers across the width to make it appear as though the window blends into the concrete surroundings of the building exterior.

The maximum depth of the window reveal was too large for more traditional manufacturing processes, and consequently, a multi-piece flashing design was specifically developed which could be both stud-welded and bolted together. This was done to avoid any distortions that may have resulted from any traditional welding processes, whilst at the same time creating a bespoke element that could be easily installed on-site.

Proteus Facades are able to supply the CAP 55 finish in either Brass or Bronze materials. The TECU Brass Proteus SC perforated panels were developed in conjunction with the supporting composite panel behind. These boasted a maximum capacity to support the perforated panels, along with the required cavity zone, at 750mm centres. In addition, Proteus SC perforated hock on panel system was used, set off from the company’s 125 x 50mm mullion.

Meanwhile, the perforated panels encompass a PPC black stainless steel bird mesh which is carefully integrated into the back to ensure that there was no visual impact to the panel face.

The Molecular Sciences Research Hub encompasses the technical and laboratory areas clustered around a full height atrium. Elsewhere, the striking new hub forms the centre piece of the Imperial West campus. Meanwhile, Laing O’Rourke commenced construction works at the end of 2014, with the project completed in 2016. The façade was installed by its in-house team Laing Facades.