EQUITONE AS A CREATIVE AND COST EFFECTIVE DESIGN SOLUTION

THE age of austerity means local authorities continue to be under pressure to meet targets and maintain service levels while being as cost effective as possible.

With investment in new facilities and redevelopment of existing ones, architects and specifiers find themselves restricted in terms of their design proposals.

However, innovative products continue to come to market which make it easier than ever before to achieve the perfect balance between aesthetics and cost.

EQUITONE is a product that is incredibly versatile and can help to make a building a success in the eyes of all those involved.

One of the most common challenges is for local authority buildings to be suitable for a number of different uses, often merging vital council facilities. For instance, creating a new leisure centre with space for council members within the same facility can mean significant savings. This requires the look and feel of the building to appeal to all audiences.

The overall aesthetic of a public sector building must be attractive and modern enough to ensure locals want to revisit whilst remaining sensitive to the surrounding environment and existing buildings.

THE STRENGTHS OF FIBRE CEMENT

EQUITONE is a durable fibre cement facade material combining outstanding physical and aesthetic properties.

As well as meeting strict budget requirements, the EQUITONE’s versatility allows the architect to put their own creative stamp on the building. They can do this thanks to the wide range of colours and finishes that are available due to the nature of the material, making it suitable for both traditional and modern schemes. It can also be cut and fabricated into a wide range of shapes, allowing the architect to let their creativity run wild whilst the specifier remains happy.

EQUITONE has been used on many public sector builds because of its natural appearance, durability and range of fixing systems; the material can be bolted onto buildings either using secret fix systems when a smooth and unbroken surface is required or using face fix systems to suit the architect’s vision.

It is equally suitable for new builds as it is for quickly and effectively updating existing properties.

MERGING FACILITIES

An example of these benefits being applied to great effect is at Rushcliffe Arena, based in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire. The arena was rebuilt and modernised using EQUITONE fibre cement facade material to give an appropriately “civic feel” to the finished project.

The ambitious £15m project overhauled leisure facilities in the borough in a bid to enhance the health and wellbeing of people in the area.  It is estimated to save the local authority an estimated £350,000 in annual running costs.

The new building has brought Rushcliffe Leisure Centre – including new squash courts, gym space and a newly-installed 25m swimming pool, aerobic studio and refurbished indoor bowling green – together with Rushcliffe Borough Council’s headquarters, which were previously based in a landmark eight-storey civic centre for 34 years.

It provides a stunning and modern example of how bringing council services under one roof to improve facilities, whilst driving down overheads, can offer a win-win solution for public sector organisations and service users.

SUBTLE DESIGN

All materials had to be durable, require minimal maintenance, have an excellent lifecycle and improve efficiency of the development, which was built following investment from the borough council as part of a wider health and wellbeing programme in the area.

CPMG Architects, based in Nottingham, specified EQUITONE [tectiva] for the building’s exterior.

EQUITONE [tectiva] is a through coloured fibre cement material that offers elegant shades of natural colour which provides a unique aesthetic effect. Characterised by the fine sanded lines and naturally occurring hues within the material, these enhance the natural matt appearance which comes to life with the effects of light and shade.

It was important for the exterior of the building to reflect the corporate feel of the council offices while remaining attractive to the local community to repeatedly draw them in.

Ajay Chauhan, architect at CPMG, the project lead designers, chose EQUITONE [tectiva] in colour Pebble to create a subtle design palette, which is often common in public sector builds.

He said: “The client wanted to use a material for the facade that was durable and low maintenance. We suggested EQUITONE [tectiva] as it’s hardwearing and has a life expectancy of over 50 years.

“EQUITONE [tectiva] in colour Pebble also provided the specific aesthetic requirements the client was looking for with its fine sanded surface and naturally occurring hues making each panel unique.

“The option to install the material using a mechanical secret fix method also added to the aesthetic impact of the finished building resulting in a sheer, smooth facade unobstructed by fixings.”

EQUITONE fibre cement facade materials also have efficiency benefits; the ventilated facade means the outer panel shield the backing wall from direct rain and in the summer, the ventilated facade has a cooling effect when outside temperatures are high. The ventilation space – which has a nominal thickness – allows air to freely circulate behind the panel, creating a comfortable inner building and eliminating condensation.

FLAGSHIP LEISURE CENTRE

Hundreds of council staff were relocated into the office suites at Rushcliffe Arena to minimise costs to the local authority and encourage more collaborative working.

The flagship sports centre acts as a community centre with a number of sports clubs – including Brazilian soccer, badminton, tag rugby and volleyball – using the centre’s facilities.

It also features a children’s beach-themed fun pool, dance and fitness studios, cafe, snooker tables, spin studio and wellness rooms, including sauna and steam rooms.

Mr Chauhan added: “We’re really pleased with the overall finish of the project. EQUITONE [tectiva] was the ideal choice for this project – it gave the aesthetic appearance we hoped for, was within budget and is of fantastic quality.”

Using cladding to not only protect a building’s exterior from the impact of weather but to make a huge design statement allows local authorities to create facilities the public want to use and colleagues are proud to work in.

For more information about EQUITONE, visit http://www.equitone.co.uk.

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