Acorn Aluminium onsite on landmark Leeds student accommodation scheme 

Acorn Aluminium is currently on site at McLaren Property’s £62 million Leonardo Buildings student accommodation scheme in the centre of Leeds.

Designed by architects Cartwright Pickard and delivered by main contractor Robertson Construction, work started on the 473-bed project in August 2021.

This includes the conversion of the city’s Grade II listed Victorian print works, Leonardo Buildings and Thoresby House, in addition to the conversion of a connected 1990s extension to the building, built to accommodate Leeds City Council’s Housing Department. 

Acorn Aluminium has been appointed to design, manufacture and install, more than 4,000mof curtain walling and windows to the scheme, starting on site at the end of last year.

Paul Stevens, Managing Director, Acorn Aluminium, said: “It’s a complex project because it’s on a large scale, but also because it’s a retrofit and conversion.

“You can’t ever quite be sure what you’re dealing with until you’re on site and looking at bricks and mortar. 

“This project involves two buildings from two distinct eras. One a Grade II Victorian print works, the other a 1990s office building. 

“Both have the potential to throw-up a unique set of challenges so understanding the interface detailing on the pre-existing structures is key in making delivery as smooth as possible.” 

Acorn Aluminium is supplying fully capped curtain walling to the scheme in Senior Architectural Systems flexible and highly energy efficient SF52 curtain walling system and 466 tilt-and-turn windows, plus barrier loaded and pre-tested perforated panel vents, to the six-storey scheme.

Product Overview

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.

Senior Systems SPW600 aluminium commercial window system:

  • Energy efficient three chamber 75mm system using Polyamide thermal breaking technologies to deliver an enhanced level of thermal performance
  • Available in top and side hung casement options including inward opening and tilt-and-turn options
  • Achieves a BFRC A Rating
  • U-values as low as 1.3W/m2K
  • Enhanced security Secured by Design compliant option

In addition to an advanced level of thermal performance and solar control, the glass specification also includes a high level of acoustic control with a 42RW+CTR rating, significantly reducing traffic noise.

Leonardo Building, Leeds

“For me, it’s a project which demonstrates the importance of close working relationships between the architect, main contractor and different sub-contractors but also the advantages that design, manufacture and fit contractors can deliver to main contractors, particularly in the conversion of pre-existing buildings.”, Paul said.

“In assuming complete responsibility for the curtain walling and window elements of this project, we’re able to make small adjustments where we need to ahead of time, supporting more effective delivery.” 

Construction is due for completion by August 2023 in time for the 2023/2024 academic year.

For more about Acorn Aluminium please call 0115 928 2166, email or visit


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