The façade is an essential element of any building. It determines the building aesthetics and, even more important, its performance: thermal, acoustic and of course safety as it creates a protective screen between the inside of the building and the outside world. Over the years, buildings have become taller and more complex – an ever-evolving process – and that has brought about increasingly complex technological challenges for all parties involved in the creation of such modern megastructures.
This evolutionary spiral has affected the sector of curtain wall as well; there has been a shift from units composed of one sheet of glass mounted on an aluminum frame to more complex double and triple “skin” facades using increasingly advanced technologies which now characterise most newly built skyscrapers.
The Permasteelisa Group, with its three Brands (Permasteelisa, Gartner and Scheldebouw), has been a key participant in this evolution, providing bespoke and advanced technical solutions, delivered to highest quality and standards. The Group’s project portfolio includes some of the landmarks of the cities that host them, all over the world. This is true for the Sydney Opera House, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Jin Mao and the World Financial Center in Shanghai, The Shard in London and the Laktha Center in St. Petersburg, as well as the Porta Nuova Garibaldi in Milan and many more, where the Group has worked together with the most visionary architects in the world.
These three brands work in a coordinated way within the Group’s philosophy as a transnational global enterprise, capable of moving resources and organizations quickly and flexibly wherever the market developments may require, using a mix of local, regional and overseas resources, tools and knowledge to best fit the needs of any job developed within and by the Group. But there is a special place in the world where the three brands are always active at the same time. We are talking about London, where in the period 2020-2023 the Permasteelisa Group will complete around 20 projects. Among them, we’d like to briefly introduce three projects, each done by one of the brands: Battersea Power Station – Phase 3A, Prospect Place (Permasteelisa), 22 Bishopsgate (Gartner) and ONE Bishopsgate Plaza (Scheldebouw).
BATTERSEA POWER STATION – PHASE 3A, PROSPECT PLACE
The Battersea Power Station redevelopment, one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe, aims to bring back to life both the iconic Power Station and the surrounding area on the south bank of the River Thames. By virtue of the holistic vision of the entire development team, the 42-acre site will be ‘re-electrified’ in a vibrant new destination for London, housing unique homes designed by internationally renowned architects, along with offices, shops, restaurants, green space and space for the arts with over 19 acres of public space.
The overall project is divided into eight phases developed starting from the western side of the site and moving to the east. Phase 3 is the main gateway to the development, connecting the Northern line extension station with The Power Station. It features the construction of over 1,300 luxury apartments framing the Electric Boulevard running through the middle of the residential area, along with 50 new shops, cafes and restaurants, a tube station, a community hub and children’s playground.
As a part of Phase 3A, Gehry Partners has designed Prospect Place, its first permanent residential development in the UK, as a series of buildings located on the opposite side of Electric Boulevard with a sculpted undulating façade. Permasteelisa is working on the envelope of the two Frank Gehry buildings of Phase 3A – adjacent to the iconic Battersea Power Station – delivering the design, manufacture and installation of around 27,200 sqm of the complex 3D shaped unitised envelope.
The design of Prospect Place was inspired by the flowing sails of ships and by John Nash’s typical London Regency style façades. In architecture of such distinctive character, the surface area of the façade is never the same, capturing and reflecting light to provide an image of itself that is always new to the beholder. The façade’s sinuousness and dynamism are particularly striking. They are the result of the way the various components of the façade are put together to evoke the flowing sails of ships and trigger an interplay of particularly engaging reflections.
Each building has its own style and the undulating façade of the buildings means no two homes are the same. Sustainability is also paramount to the development of the project. The sustainability framework includes the benefits to the community, economy and environment along with the architect’s commitment to design excellence and dedication to making public and private spaces that feel good for the inhabitants and respect the surrounding context.
The façade is designed to take full advantage of the brightness of the buildings, thanks to the special undulating shape created by the protruding and receding volumes of winter gardens and terraces. The choice to use white aluminium panels for the façade allows filling the common areas between the buildings with a warm and enveloping light coming from the sun’s rays reflecting on the façade.
The envelope comprises three main elements: customised, unitised glass façade units creating the internal walls of the cladding, unique white surfaces that give the shape to the building and unique spandrel panels. Everything pivots around the key area near the spandrel panel and the transition between this and the vision glass.
The innovative design has required the engineering and production of around 4,000 unitized panels, with aluminium profiles equipped with double-glazed or opaque infills, all different from each other and openable both with a folding or sliding panel. The undulating shape of the façade required about 3,300 aluminium closed infill white “boxes”, characterised by a unique and non-repetitive, customised shape. These boxes create the undulating and sinuous shape desired by the Architect.
The project aims to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating under the BREEAM sustainability assessment method, so the visible panels are equipped with high thermal and solar performance low-E coated, extra-clear glass to maximise the light coming in, while preserving energy.
The installation of the last panel is planned for the coming months and when completed Prospect Place will be a new architectural landmark for London.
At a height of 278 m (912 ft), 22 Bishopsgate is the tallest skyscraper in the City of London and the tallest skyscraper worldwide that features the particularly sustainable Closed Cavity Façade (CCF), the proprietary technology developed by Permasteelisa Group. Gartner, the German brand of the Group, cladded the office tower with 67,000 sqm (721,200 sq ft) of CCF façade with story-high units that are limited to a maximum depth not exceeding 250 mm (~9 7/8”). The closed cavity of the highly transparent glass units accommodates motorized dual color Venetian blinds providing sun and glare protection. The closed cavity façade offers huge improvements in daylight transmission and thermal performance, and together with the user-controlled smart blinds, it is a significant factor in the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating to which 22 Bishopsgate is designed.
The story-high façade units feature a structurally glazed low-e coated glass units on the inside and Laminated Safety Glass (LSG) panes with selective coating on the outside which are glued directly to the thermally broken framework without carrier frame. These façade units with low-iron glazing allow up to 60% more daylight into the interior space than standard window glazing.
The 23-sided, faceted glass body of the tower is shaped to respect the town-scape views and makes a strong and calm backdrop to the surrounding towers and the neighboring historic buildings of the Bank of England. PLP Architecture worked with engineers from Formula 1 to model the building and the impact it would have on wind flows. The engineers created large-scale canopies, made out of steel and glass and ultrahighperformance reinforced concrete to tamp down the wind flow – testing 23 different designs before settling on the best one. The facetted façade geometry chosen by the architects also maximises views across the City and opens up a wide range of visual axes for future tenants.
The entrance hall is a multi-level foyer conceived as an art gallery with curated temporary art exhibits. Permanent installations adorn the building, such as the British artist Alexander Beleschenko’s glass canopies. In addition to the 115 LSG panes for the canopies along Bishopsgate and above the main entrance, Beleschenko has further adorned approx. 50 insulating glass panes of the lobby façade as well as several wind mitigation screens. All glass panes have received ceramic digital print according to his file templates.
ONE BISHOPSGATE PLAZA
ONE Bishopsgate Plaza is a mixed-use development located in the City of London designed by PLP Architecture for the UOL Group. The 43-story tower features a sophisticated form which steps as it rises. The scheme accommodates high-end retail components, restaurants and cafés on the ground floors, a luxury 5-star hotel providing wellness, meeting and events spaces along with a double-height ballroom and conference facility and, on the upper levels of the main tower building, 160 private residential apartments. Furthermore, the scheme includes a new public space filled with shops and cafes at its edges.
Scheldebouw, the Dutch brand of Permasteelisa Group, designed, engineered, manufactured and installed the façade of the main tower and the pavilion, a total of 20,000 sqm (215,300 sq ft) of unitized curtain wall and 11,000 sqm (118,400 sq ft) of brise soleil. The glass pavilion features structural glass fins for both the façade and the roof. These are designed in a way to form a structure of 3-hinge frames on which double glass units can be toggle fixed and structurally sealed.
The pavilion is a full glass box with a roof pitched in two directions. In order to keep the internal atmosphere comfortable, the glass features a high-performance coating. The roof glazing and the West and South façade glass have a custom frit pattern to lower the heat gain even further.
Within the North and South elevation, a portal frame with automated double doors gives access to the pavilion. Inside, an escalator and a lift bring visitors down into the ballroom area. Scheldebouw worked with PLP Architecture to develop a special LED lighting system incorporated into the stainless steel connection profiles between the glass frames and the façade and roof glazing units.
The development of bespoke design and engineering solutions overcame the many challenges posed by the construction of this amazing fully transparent pavilion.
This article was originally published in IGS Magazine’s Summer 2021 Issue: Read the full Magazine here for more thought-leadership from those spearheading the industry
Massimiliano Fanzaga is the Communication Manager of the Permasteelisa Group. Supported by a team of specialists spread in all geographic regions where the Permasteelisa Group operates, he is constantly dealing with Media, Universities and important International Events ensuring the right positioning of the Permasteelisa Group brand in the relevant market. Massimiliano graduated in 2001 at the University of Milan with a degree in Political Science, course of studies in political economy. Driven by his love for architecture and the desire of being part of an international group, in 2008 he started as an Investor Relator in the Permasteelisa Group.