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Project Details - University of Swansea (Digital Technium Building)

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Project Spotlight - Digital Technium Building


Boyes Rees Architects, Newport

Design Requirements

Shackerley helped Boyes Rees to realise a spectacular design concept for a new state of the art Digital Technium building, developed to foster the growth of the digital economy in Wales. Working closely with the Newport practice and the main contractors, E Turner & Sons of Cardiff, Shackerley procured and prefabricated polished ceramic granite slabs in a bespoke colourway for the dramatic ‘spine wall’ of this £4.3million landmark building, located at the heart of the University of Swansea campus.

The spine wall acts as a central axis for the building and is fundamental to the overall design of the development. The original material specification called for slate cladding but when the University called for the project to be value engineered, polished ceramic granite slabs were proposed as an alternative way to preserve the aesthetic design concept, at a fraction of the cost of slate.

A bespoke black reflective slab with a dark grey vein, now known as ‘Swansea Black’ was created specifically for the project, for use not only on the exterior of the spine wall but also on the interior walls of the entrance hall and atrium providing visual continuity.

“This was without doubt one of the most enjoyable projects our architectural practice has ever worked on”, said Project Director from Boyes Rees Architects, Gary Loo. “The Digital Technium building has exactly realised the original aesthetic brief in every respect. I’m delighted with the ceramic granite cladding on the spine wall which gives expression to the elevation and enhances the powerful architecture. This is the first time that we have used this innovative material to clad an exterior but I’m sure it will not be the last”.

Materials Used

1000m2 of bespoke coloured (Swansea Black) ceramic granite slabs in a polished ‘LEV’ finish were used to clad the spine wall and interior walls of the entrance hall and atrium.

Before supplying the material to cladding subcontractors, William Verry (Glazing Systems), Shackerley prefabricated the ceramic granite, predrilling each slab four times to accept its undercut expanding anchors and cutting 500 slabs to exacting schedules to accommodate the unusual design of the building. The ceramic granite was delivered to site complete with 3500 fixing straps in place, packed in customised protective cartons.