An undulating ribbon of Corian® forms the high-impact first impression of the magnificent new Menai Science Park (M-SParc) by FaulknerBrowns Architects. The first science park to be developed in Wales, the £15.5million project aims to drive growth in knowledge-based industries, with a focus on clean and sustainable technology. A wholly owned subsidiary of Bangor University, M-SParc is working closely with the university to provide expertise and support to local enterprise.
The 5,000m² building features an Open Innovation Space offering conferencing, co-working and hospitality (both for businesses and the wider community) plus incubator and grow-on office space, laboratories, clean workshops and admin facilities. The structure is characterised by a continuous ﬂowing ribbon that forms ﬂoor, wall and roof surfaces, wrapping around the space within while also connecting the building to the exterior landscape.
“The architecture is intended to reflect the values of M-SParc,” says Leighton Cooksey, Project Director at FaulknerBrowns, “and to create a high quality, unique environment to promote energy and innovation while attracting the best new initiatives and creating a thriving community space.”
The form of the building posed a number of challenges as the ribbon needed to contain all building services, structure and waterproofing within a continuous thickness of just 850mm. A seamless finish was desired to create a monolithic appearance with minimal joints. The chosen material had to meet a variety of orientations, be formed into tight internal radii of 400mm and withstand the worst of the Anglesey weather.
“We investigated a number of alternative cladding systems including glass reinforced concrete, aluminium composites, cassette panels and high-pressure laminate, but very quickly chose Corian® as the preferred solution,” Leighton continues, “Working with Unique Fabrications, we developed the principle of a Corian® rainscreen cladding system over a waterproofed steel frame. Corian® proved to be the perfect material to deal with the sinuous form of the ribbon, with the thermoformed curved panels, preformed corners and invisible fixings and thus to meet the architectural design intent.”
FaulknerBrowns carried out extensive research together with M-SParc to assess the weathering performance and robustness of the proposed cladding, confirming that it would withstand the rigours of the exposed site.
“The smooth, non-porous nature of Corian® and its ease of cleaning and maintenance made it the ideal choice for ensuring the longevity of the pristine white finish,” Leighton concludes.
Fabricated and installed by Corian® Industrial Partner, Unique Fabrications Ltd, the cladding consists of 1300m2 of Corian® in Glacier White thermoformed into sculptural panels and fitted over 15 weeks using an aluminium support system.
Corian® also makes an impressive appearance to the interior of the building, continuing the ribbon motif with cladding around varying levels of the lobby and forming the main reception desk. Both applications make the most of the material’s translucency and its compatibility with technology, by smoothly integrating backlit logos for added impact.
Operational Director of M-Sparc, Pryderi ap Rhisiart, adds “We did a lot of research ourselves before agreeing to the Corian® cladding, and we know we’ve made the right choice. The impact is exactly what we wanted from this flagship building. The public and businesses alike comment on the external and internal design when they enter, with the Corian® creating a clean, professional finish fitting to a building of this stature. It really does have the wow factor.”