Pura, the natural external facades specialist, is completing a £2.6m contract to supply bespoke Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) panels and associated fixing systems to the landmark Oaklands Rise project at Willesden Junction, west London. The high-quality cladding manufactured by Austrian firm Rieder forms the exterior facades of the balconies and punctuates the brickwork on the mixed use development which is creating 605 new homes.
Despite the pressures of lockdown, Pura has supplied more than 4,600 pieces of standard curved and linear Rieder GRC Fibre C (Sahara Ferro) to the project over the past year. As well as providing these non-flammable GRC panels and fixing systems for the project, Pura managed the logistics of phased deliveries on-site, creating complete packs of Rieder products and appropriate fixings to facilitate rapid, safe erection of the specially manufactured panels.
James Butler, commercial director of Pura Facades, said: “Given the issues of access and the relatively compact site footprint at Oaklands Rise, a major part of our added value was being able to handle the quality control and kitting of complete GRC packs – just like IKEA flatpacks – at our fabrication centre in Birmingham. This way, contractors on-site had everything they needed – panels and fixings – for every balcony they finished.
“Another important aspect of this project was Pura’s consultative approach, which saw our estimators suggesting different panel configurations to aid installation and reduce waste as well as the cost of fixings, which can be significant in a project of this scale.
He continued: “All of the balconies were designed to be installed with A1 incombustible GRC panels with a concealed fixing system, allowing for water pipes and ventilation grills to be incorporated seamlessly.”
A further notable benefit to using Rieder’s lighter weight GRC is that Pura were able to design the façade and balconies to a 60 kg panel size, enabling a safe and efficient manual installation process.
The Oaklands Rise development comprises 605 new homes (40 per cent social and affordable with the remainder being private for rent) and 40,000 sq. ft. of commercial space. The scheme demonstrates the growing interest in the build-to-rent sector in the UK and particularly within London.
The development is being undertaken in partnership with Genesis Housing Association and QPR, with the main contractor and design consultants being Galliford Try (later Vistry) and Arcadis respectively.
Granted, the Rieder GRC facades provide a stand-out aesthetic to the building’s balconies, however this was not the sole consideration. Availability of product was a key issue facing the architects, given the considerable lag in supply of alternatives. While heavier, drawn cladding products were originally specified, the cost of manufacture, weight of products (requiring lifting equipment on-site) and the program lead time of up to 50 weeks, made this option unviable.
The 12-week lead time to first delivery provided by Rieder for its GRC products met the required timeframes, making installation far easier than heavier alternatives.
Pura Facades has its headquarters in London and specialises in natural finished facades including GRC, terracotta and brick slip.