University of Cumbria

Project: Gateway Building at the University of Cumbria

Architect: Wilson Mason and Partners

Main Contractors: Pinnington Limited


Not only was fermacell selected for the internal walls but has - for the first time on a major project in this counstry - been utilised as an external carrier board for the structure's rainscreen cladding.

Whilst fermacell has been widely used in rainscreen applications on timber frame constructions throughout Europe for the past 20 years, it has not -until now- been marketed for such an application in the U.K.

The environmentally friendly design of the University of Cumbria incorporates natural ventilation and the integration - wherever possible - of local natural materials such as Cumbrian Stone and Zinc Cladding.  Construction of the Gateway began in March 2007. It is located opposite the Keep at the top of the main driveway into campus and stands on the site once occupied by Harrison Lodge and Princess Maragret Hall.

The main reception area for the Campus has also moved into the Gateway from its previous location in the Keep. Keith Cheshire, Project Architect with Wilson Mason architects commented: "The Gateway is the flagship and focal point of the Lancaster Campus and designed to achieve a BREEAM 'very good' rating. Prior to its construction, many student services were disparately spread out across the campus, but are now to be found under one roof.

"The Structure has four floors each extending to around 800m2 and the main external feature is a 10m cantilever. Within the complex is a student welfare services arena, a central campus catering outlet and office ammodation for 70 people. 

"The lower ground floor contains the catering and kitchen facilities, whilst the ground floor is a 'one-stop' shop known as the '1-Zone' which acts as a hub for all student inquiries regarding university administration such as finance, student loans and accommodation through to medical advice. There is also a cafe on this level. Facilities on the first floor 'Skills Zone' comprise a resource zone for the students and private appointment rooms where they can talk to members of staff.

"The Top floor incorproatse two first class catering facilities Room 301 and VIEW which, as the name suggests, has with superb views overlooking the city of Lancaster and Morecambe Bay. Throughout the building are a substantial number of feature walls incorporating the fermacell product. One wall of particular note - by the main staircase - runs from ground floor to roof level and incorproates lighting effects. All the bulkheads and trims are also made from fermacell."

Among the advantages of using fermacell is the level of FST surance treatment that can be achieved and the durability of the product. A student building is subjected to more than its fair share of knocks and its important that the walls can withstand such day-to-day treatment."

Project Manager Russell Calvert of Main Contractors, Pinington limited of Lancaster, commented: "The building is ostensibly dseigned to provide sutdent support services. fermacell's durability is ideal in an environment in which knocks are inevitably going to take place/"

fermacell Area Manager Phil Mattatia from fermacell commented: "The use of 12.5mm fermacell as an external backer board proved very successful in this application. It was exposed to the rain for nearly three months before the rainscreen cladding was installed and oped admirably wih the conditions.

"Rigorous testing of fermacell as an external backing board was udnertaken last year at the Taylor Woodrow Technology Centre in Leighton Buzzard in accordance with strict guidelines set down by the CWCT (Centre for Windows and Cladding Technology).

"No other competitive board systems - to our knowledge - have gone through this test process, which has been developed specifically for rainscreen evaluation.

fermacell passed the test with flying colours and, given it is up to 50% cheaper per meter squared when compared with established products, we anticpiate a growing demard for fermacell being used in external applications."

The University of Cumbria has more than 15,000 students at campuses and sites in Carlisle, Ambleside, Penrith, Lancaster, Whitehaven, Barrow and London. It provides a wide range of degree courses in subjects including business, the arts, teaching, nursing, outdoor studies and sport, to name just a few.