Curtain walling designed to perform

We were appointed to design, manufacture and install 400m2 four-storey statement curtain walling at the Confetti Building, a landmark city centre development for Nottingham Trent University.

Designed by Allan Joyce Architects, and sitting at the heart of Nottingham Trent University’s Confetti Campus, the Confetti Building is home to the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies, providing teaching facilities for 2,000 creative technologies students.

The contemporary five-storey building, which features professional studios, labs, a motion capture suite, classroom facilities and computer suites, is defined by the intelligent combination of a solid rainscreen panel system and a statement curtain walling installation.

This was designed and developed in partnership by Acorn Aluminium, alongside Allan Joyce Architects and main contractor Stepnell, using the highly innovative SF52 curtain walling system from Senior Architectural Systems.

Statement aluminium curtain walling by Acorn Aluminium The Confetti Building is defined by the intelligent combination of a solid rainscreen panel system and a statement curtain walling installation.

Paul Stevens, Commercial Sales Director, Acorn Aluminium, was part of the team who worked on the 2018 project.

“The architects had developed a very exciting vision which reflected the Confetti Building’s end use by the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies”, Paul explains.

“This included COR-TEN weathering steel panels, which weather to form a stable-rust coating, protecting the material, which were married with a defining glass curtain wall.

“The combination of the naturally weathered COR-TEN panelling and the smooth glass commercial aluminium façade define the building.”

We were tasked with design, manufacture and installation to Allan Joyce Architects’ innovative specifications, working with one of our systems partners, Senior Architectural Systems to deliver a solution.

Our approach

As well as aesthetics, the environmental footprint of the building was a key consideration as the architects pursued BREEAM Excellent Status.

Given this key requirement we opted to move forward with Senior’s SF52 aluminium curtain walling, which combines high levels of thermal performance and manufacture from fully recyclable aluminium.   

“We also opted for a combination silicone/toggle-glazed solution with perimeter clamp capping.

“This allowed us to create an uninterrupted external sightline in the main sections of the curtain walling, while using conventional capping around the edge”, continues Paul.

“There are two main reasons for this. Silicone or toggle glazing is a specialist process and that can push up costs.

“You’re essentially using a toggle fixed to the internal mullion which is then rotated 90° to engage into a pre-formed channel within the structurally sealed double-glazed unit. Sealed with silicone, it creates a very minimalist finish but is a highly skilled installation job which means it can take longer, and time as they say is money.

“The other consideration is that using a toggle-glazed system can introduce additional challenges and complexities where facades meet the main fabric of the building.

“Developing a hybrid solution we were able to deliver the aesthetic that the architects wanted but keep a control on costs and avoid a number of potential pitfalls.”

Curtain walling used a combination of silicone/toggle-glazing with perimeter clamp capping
Additional considerations

While a prime city centre location and built and converted from the site of a former industrial lace works, the site of the Confetti Building also brought a unique set of challenges to delivery.

“It [the Confetti Building] is literally in sight of what I believe is one of the busiest streets in Europe, with limited accessibility and space”, adds Paul.

“The exceptionally tight footprint meant that we had to do everything on the vertical with product winched into place using a crane straight from the trucks.”

Product overview Senior Architectural Systems SF52 Curtain Walling

If we had to describe the SF52 curtain walling system from Senior Systems, we’d say that it draws on ‘all the best bits’ from Senior’s other curtain walling systems and brings them together into a single offer!

It’s defined by a consistent slim 52mm sightline, delivering levels of thermal efficiency far beyond current building regulations.

It also offers an exceptional level of flexibility and is suitable for both ground floor and high-rise applications, with full weather testing to CWCT and EN13830.

It has a life expectancy of 40 years or more and is 100% recyclable at end of life.

Senior Systems SF52 aluminium curtain walling:
  • Can be assembled in any combination of capped, vertically capped, horizontally capped or silicone glazed to create a unique external facade. A variety of caps allows even more aesthetic possibilities.
  • Choose from Zone drained or Mullion drained (fully capped only).
  • Large range of transom & mullion sizes with additional reinforcing sleeves and boxes from 50-250mm plus the option of concealed steel reinforcing to allow larger spans.
  • Raked heads for a range of apex angles can be achieved using a specially designed shear block.
  • Fully compatible with any of our windows (including frameless vents) plus both manual and automated doors.
  • Available in an almost unlimited choice of colours and finishes both externally and internally.
Product overview Senior Architectural Systems SPW501 aluminium commercial door

In addition to the SF52, Acorn Aluminium also manufactured also used Senior’s SPW501 commercial aluminium door system in the entrance design to the building, maximising the flow of natural light to create a welcoming and open space.

The high performance, thermally broken polyamide aluminium framing system, is ideal for high pedestrian uses and applications, and is available in a standard and narrower 58mm clip and flush mullion, offering additional design options.

It’s also available in a range of configurations, including standard pivot and anti-finger trap doors.

  • End Client: Nottingham Trent University
  • £9.1m development completed March 2018
  • Commercial partners: Allan Joyce Architects/Stepnell/Senior Architectural Systems/Saint Gobain
  • 400m2 four storey statement aluminium curtain walling installation
  • System used: SF52 aluminium curtain walling and SPW501 aluminium commercial door systems from Senior Architectural Systems, designed manufactured and installed by Acorn Aluminium
  • Method: Combination of silicone/toggle-glazed and capped perimeter
  • Glass: Saint Gobain
The client’s verdict

Speaking at the Stepnell topping out ceremony: Barbara Matthews, pro vice-chancellor (culture) and head of the College of Art, Architecture, Design and Humanities at NTU, said:

“The topping out of Confetti’s Digital Media Hub illustrated the true scale of NTU’s ambitions for its Creative Quarter Campus. The Hub will provide students with first-class facilities in which they will develop the skills that will propel them in their careers.”

Closing thoughts

“Any project runs better if you start talking to your supply partners sooner rather than later. We were brought in comparatively early in the process by Stepnell. That meant that we were able to support them and the lead architects in delivering maximum value for the end client”, Paul concludes.  

For more information, please contact:

Paul Stevens, Commercial Director, Acorn Aluminium
tel. 0115 9282166
mob. 07721 128254


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