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Rodeca panels invite young people back to myplace

Rainscreen cladding by Rodeca features on a new youth centre in Birmingham.

Translucent cladding panels from Rodeca were specified for a new youth centre for their aesthetic and performance benefits.

Some 1,800²m of Rodeca’s Isoclear polycarbonate sheets, which feature U-values as low as 0.71 W/m2K, were selected by Associated Architects for the rainscreen cladding of the first and second floors of the £5million myplace youth centre in Aston, Birmingham.

The 40mm recyclable panels were used bi-coloured (where the interior panel layer is a different colour to the exterior one for a 3D effect) in a variety of colours ranging from white to blue to make the 1,800²m building a landmark one.

Delivered by The Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Department for Education, the myplace programme aims to deliver world class youth facilities driven by the active participation of young people and their views and needs. It is funding 63 projects across England worth close to £240 million.

The brief from Birmingham Youth Services was for a building that had a strong presence but was also open and inviting, that would integrated the surrounding area which could be tense at times due to varying social and cultural backgrounds. It also needed to provide young people with a venue in which they felt safe but that also provided them with training and development opportunities.

Members of the local youth community were extensively consulted and involved throughout the scheme design process, including visits to precedents in London.

Facilities include readily accessible public informal and flexible spaces, group meeting rooms, IT rooms, social areas, café and advice centre at ground floor, concrete-frame level where full-height security glazing enables clear views into and out of the centre.

More specialist and cellular accommodation is located on the steel-framed cantilevered upper floors including a four-court sports hall that can also be used for performance and conference uses, dance studio, changing facilities, music rooms including a recording studio, and business enterprise units.

The 500mm-wide panels are manufactured with a tongue and groove coupling and are fixed with aluminium fasteners, in myplace Aston’s case for main contractor GF Tomlinson. Theoretically, facades can be more than 200m long and a panel height of up to 25 m can be mounted in one piece.

Some 200 times tougher than glass, the panels enable light transmission between 5-65% and at the same time are highly efficient insulators of heat (< 0.71W/m²K) and sound (21-43dB). Lightweight (approximately 4.5kg/m²) but stable, they also feature good fire resistance to BS and EN standards and are UV-protected with a 10-year-guarantee.

Rav Kumar, senior architect with Associated Architects, who also used Rodeca panels on a myplace in Longbridge, said: “We required a material that was easy to install, suitable for the budget, had varying degrees of transparency, was ideal for natural daylighting, and offered colour options. In addition, Rodeca’s thermal properties and strength are impressive.

“We have used similar products but the alternatives are not as impressive as Rodeca in the range of colours and thermal and detailing flexibility. The Rodeca panels are THE key feature on the project, providing a beacon to the area when backlit.”

He added: “The Rodeca panels enable the building to take on varying characters at different times of the day, allowing the sports hall to be naturally lit in the day to ensure minimal reliance on artificial lighting. In the evening, the use of artificial lighting and feature LED lighting allows Myplace to become a beacon within the community.”

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