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Project Details - Darwen Leisure Centre

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Not all rainscreens are monolithic, says Shackerley

Shackerley (Holdings) Group Limited is urging architects and other specifiers to think creatively and to explore the many different aesthetic styles that can be achieved using the company’s Queen’s Award winning Sureclad ceramic granite ventilated facade system.

“There’s a widespread assumption that ceramic granite ventilated facades will automatically deliver a monolithic appearance”, says Shackerley Chief Executive Brian Newell, “Most of the buildings which feature our cladding do indeed have sleek, uninterrupted elevations, incorporating panels of a single colour and pattern. However, ceramic granite is an exceptionally versatile material, which we supply in many different styles, colourways and finishes. There’s no reason why every panel in an elevation has to be the same, and it’s exciting to see what happens when specifiers express their creativity and take a less conventional approach.”

One such project is Darwen Leisure Centre, Blackburn & Darwen Borough Council’s flagship sports and leisure facility built at a cost of £12.7million.

“Like the vast majority of projects we have supplied, this scheme uses a combination of our regular Sureclad Access system and our most popular and economically sized 1200 by 600mm ceramic granite panel format,” says Brian. “However, the facades have been created using panels in three different colours, randomly distributed, resulting in ‘patchwork’ effect. Furthermore, the panels have all been specially manufactured with a surface finish that resembles weathered metal, with all its visual texture, variation and reflectivity.”

This aesthetic concept was jointly conceived by independent design consultant Jeremy Waygood and the main project architects, Capita Symonds. The cladding has been designed using colours which have helped to integrate this large building into the tight townscape of Darwen with its many steep terraces of stone houses. The colour range sits comfortably alongside the stone whilst the panel variation helps to break up the mass of the building.

Blackburn & Darwen Borough Council was an active participant in the design criteria and selection, having previously commissioned a borough-wide colour study to assist in more sympathetic development in this strong Pennine landscape.

“The overall effect is very distinctive”, concluded Brian Newell, “As far as we are aware, this is the first building in the UK to be clad in this way, using ‘metallised’ ceramic granite panels in a combination of colourways. This design not only showcases our cladding system to great effect but helps to make the new Centre a prominent landmark building in the heart of Darwen.”

The main contractor was Galliford Try Northern and the cladding was installed by Baris Limited