Translucent polycarbonate rainscreen panels by Rodeca were specified for a performing arts building for their transparency, light weight, ability to be back-lit and range of colours.
More than 300m2 of Rodeca’s 40mm PC 2540 wall cladding panels in Kristall and Bi-Colors Kristall/yellow and Kristall/green were used to vertically clad the first floor of the £5 million Box Theatre at Redbridge College in Romford, Essex.
Designed by previous Rodeca specifiers Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt award-winning architects as part of a masterplan study for the college, the performing arts centre is one of two new standalone BREEAM “Excellent” buildings (the other being a teaching block) at its Chadwell Heath campus.
The Box Theatre comprises music recording studios and teaching spaces as well as a 264-seat performance space which doubles as a multi-purpose hall with retractable seating for enrolment, exhibitions and gatherings.
The building is conceived as an elevated translucent box sitting on a plinth of black brickwork, mostly clad in the Rodeca coloured, translucent glazing to create a vibrant façade. This is back-lit with low-level lighting and integrated signage. The reception areas sits within a double-height foyer area, creating the new entrance and updated public face of the college.
A 15m redundant boiler chimney which is a significant presence on the site could not be removed so the college decided to make it a positive feature and turn it into a marker beacon. The top is clad in the same colours of Rodeca cladding, with backlit signage to advertise the college, and the brickwork has been painted dark grey to complement the other rainscreen cladding on the Box Theatre.
ACG’s Dominic Gaunt said: “The performance block creates a new public face to the college which suffered from a poor public presence on its street frontage, being accessed between residential buildings and all but invisible from the heath opposite. The main entry point into the buildings looked tired and uninspiring for a contemporary learning environment. Our design established it as a marker building, drawing people into the site and giving the college a visible presence from the street.
“Rodeca was chosen because it can be back-lit whole providing a colourful and lightweight appearance during the day. Because of its transparency we were also able to use it as a diffuser for the hypertext signage of the theatre. A good colour range and different levels of transparency between panel types afforded a good range of options with which to play with on the façade.
“The client loves the effect and is pleased with the overall effect, particularly at night.”
The placement of the building was designed to screen the existing facade while creating a new courtyard space that is shared between the existing in-house restaurant, Rouge, and the new multi-use space.
The entrance route takes students and visitors under an extended overhanging, through to the new reception. A secondary route comes from the car park and through the enclosed courtyard to the same reception link block.
The 500mm-wide Rodeca panels, which are 200 times tougher than glass and perform up to 43 dB of sound insulation and down to 0.35 W/m2K of thermal insulation, were installed by specialist sub-contractor OCL Facades for main contractor Lakehouse during a 13-month build.
The Bi-Colors are where the interior panel layers are coloured differently to the exterior panel layers, for a 3D effect. Panels giving up to 80% light transmission are installed quickly and easily using a tongue and groove system.