Steni panels are sheer poetry for Byron ResidencesRainscreen cladding panels by Steni UK were specified for an award-winning £60million student accommodation project for their lightweight and aesthetics.

Some 3,750m2 of Steni Colour high-gloss white fibreglass reinforced polymer composite panels picture frame the upper elevations of three blocks of accommodation of various storeys forming a new landmark complex at the northern gateway to Nottingham Trent University’s City site.

The Students’ Union building and Byron Residences comprise a total of more than 5,500m2 of social, leisure, well being and living facilities, more than 900 high-quality student bedrooms, a new 60,000ft2 Students’ Union building being dubbed “One of the best students’ unions in the country,” with 2,400-capacity venue space, and a fitness centre and sports hall.

Delivered to BREEAM “Excellent” standard from a light gauge steel frame on a reinforced concrete-frame podium, the project has also won architects Church Lukas, who had previously used Steni Colour on their Derwent Point student development on Wakley Street in Islington, London, a Design Excellence Award from the Insider East Midlands Property awards.

Their brief was to provide a unique and exciting student environment with an exceptional accommodation product, delivered to exemplar design quality. Both the client (the university) and the developer UPP (Universities Partnerships Programme) expected a gateway statement for the City site, to provide students with a social facility in balance with the academic quality of the university.

The scheme needed to reinvigorate the streetscape at the corner of Shakespeare and Goldsmith Streets and become a positive statement of student life and activity within the city as part of the university’s ambitious estate regeneration programme.

The design response was a striking architectural form which delivers a clear and positive identity to the Students’ Union while creating a series of European-quality urban spaces which respond and appeal to a broad cross-section of students, without producing a single mass entity that contributes nothing to the cityscape or urban experience.

The Steni Colour panels, with a smooth surface of 100% acrylic that is electron beam cured without the use of solvents, were installed for main contractor Vinci Construction by rainscreen sub-contractor Horbury Building Systems who were on site for nine months, fixing the system to an aluminium sub-frame using structural adhesive.

Church Lukas director John Freeman said: “We specified the Steni Colour because the design of the building required that a lightweight glossy product be used which projected a visual quality not present in other products. It provides a visual highlight to all of the upper-floor elevations.

“It forms part of the overall rainscreen cladding system but as the picture-frame is a stand-alone detail the interface junctions could be kept simple and crisp which reinforced the quality of the architecture.”

He added: “We had already used the product on Wakley Street and due to our satisfaction with it on that scheme we felt confident bringing it to the client’s attention as an alternative to the original specified product.”

Horbury’s commercial manager said: “The time frame for the build was a significant driver – four blocks with multiple rainscreen systems in a nine- month period along with the complexity and shape of Block A.

“The sheer volume of works that needed to be completed in the time frame was intense both from a procurement point of view and delivering on site but the Steni panels were easy to work with in terms of cutting on site and bonding to the bespoke picture frame substructure.”

Steps taken during the construction phase to reduce the environmental impact included the prefabricated structural framing system for all the residential accommodation which reduced the programme on site and the extent of material deliveries usually associated with built-up solutions as well as pre-finished bathroom pods.