Rainscreen – A Fresh New Start

Rainscreen retrofit - Pendleton, Manchester

Back in 2006, the Channel 4 show ‘Demolition’ set out to identify the buildings that the general public would most like to see flattened. Unsurprisingly, many of the most popular nominees featured boxy, concrete-faced designs which had quickly become dirty and dilapidated.

The question of how to deal with these monoliths has been a central consideration for town planners over the last couple of decades. In the early 2000s, the Royal Institute of British Architects even suggested the introduction of a Grade X listing for buildings and structures which badly needed to either be demolished or extensively refurbished. Increasingly developers and social landlords are adopting the second of these two approaches.

Retrofitting the future

The internal and external refurbishment route offers a number of key benefits for large-scale projects. As the original structure is retained, the cost and environmental impact of the work is greatly reduced. Furthermore, in residential applications, the installation of rainscreen cladding can usually be completed without tenants having to leave their homes.

Modern rainscreen facades offer a huge amount of colour and finish choice for specifiers, and while it is impossible to please everyone when it comes to aesthetics, most fascias are designed to be durable, colour-fast and easy to maintain. This should allow buildings to retain their new look for years to come.

Retrofit rainscreen applications can also help to improve comfort levels within the buildings. If designed and installed carefully, the rainscreen should do a much better job at keeping out severe weather such as driving wind and rain, and help to reduce energy bills via improved insulation performance. All of these advantages are clearly visible on the ‘Creating a new Pendleton’ scheme in Salford.

Creating a new Pendleton

The £650 million regeneration project, devised by between Salford City Council and Pendleton Together (Together Housing), includes the refurbishment of 1,253 dwellings along with the creation of new public spaces, roads and landscaping.

A central element in the new plan was the refurbishment of nine 1970s residential tower blocks. Standing at over 20 storeys tall, the buildings are visible across the local area and their original brick cladding was tired and badly decayed. As such, it was crucial that the new rainscreen set the tone for the rest of regeneration programme.

Having canvassed the opinions of the existing tenants, aluminium facia panels were specified with a simple silver finish. The panels are highly durable, require minimal upkeep and give the buildings a clean, modern appearance.

Internally the flats had previously suffered from a number of issues including damp and excessive heat loss. To address this, large double glazed window units were specified and a 110 mm thickness of Kingspan Kooltherm K15 Rainscreen Board was installed tight to the original facing. As well as keeping tenants warm, the lightweight insulation boards also helped to keep the fast-track refurbishment programme on track.

Starting afresh

In the next blog in this series, we’ll take a look at how rainscreen cladding is being used to support alternative approach to regeneration — demolishing and re-building individual buildings or entire estates.

In the meantime, why not catch up with previous posts?

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Kingspan Insulation is a market leading manufacturer of optimum, premium and high performance rigid insulation products and insulated systems for building fabric and building services applications.

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