Project Spotlight - Gatwick Hilton Extension
The Manser Practice
In the very first project of its type in the UK, the new £26 million, 233-bedroom executive wing at the Hilton London Gatwick Airport was clad with a ceramic granite rainscreen, specified not only for its distinctive aesthetic appearance but to offer protection against the elements and provide thermal and acoustic insulation.
Marvin Farr, director of The Manser Practice and project architect for the Hilton extension, explains: “Given the proximity of the hotel to the airport runway, a key design requirement for the external envelope of the new extension was to significantly reduce aircraft noise entering the bedrooms. We selected a rainscreen cladding system similar in design to the one we had used successfully at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport, because it performed well acoustically. However, through the specification of ceramic granite cladding panels on this project, we were also able to achieve a number of other objectives.
“The original Hilton at Gatwick is clad in travertine marble. We were looking for an economical material that would emulate all the qualities of natural quarried stone and complement the existing travertine, but that would also distinguish the new executive wings from the original building. The material had to be highly durable and resistant to moisture and all the elements.
“The intrinsic strength of ceramic granite means that slim and comparatively lightweight panels can be created. Being able to use such slimline slabs, only 12mm thick, meant that the overall panel weight, and therefore the costs, were dramatically reduced, relative to traditional stone panels of similar size”.
The finished extension is sleek in design as Marvin explains: “We wanted to create two flush, seamless ‘boxes’ that would reflect the landscaped gardens and changing skies, and this obviously required a material with a high degree of reflectivity. Polished ceramic granite is ideal as it has dramatic mirror-like qualities. By fritting the edges of the bedroom glazing we were able to play down the distinction between glazing and cladding materials. The rain screen system of cladding panels was detailed flush with the silicone bonded ‘frameless’ glazing to realise the design concept.”
4000m2 of light stone coloured Basilicata ceramic granite slabs in a polished ‘LEV’ finish each measuring 1200 x 600 x 12mm were used to create the rainscreen façade for the hotel extension.