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Working Detail: St Mary Magdalene Academy by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

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[WORKING DETAIL 24.09.09] Timber rainscreen cladding

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios − The timber rainscreen cladding is made from FSC-certified cumaru, a dense hardwood that we used as shiplap cladding at Northampton Academy (2006). The timber’s strength and durability allow it to be machined down to a very narrow section. We took advantage of this when creating the imprint of the two fish, Ichthus, that swim across the 40m facade.

The 560 individual projecting sections that make up the school’s Liverpool Road facade were sorted to ensure that the cumaru’s natural colour variation was well mixed. The numbered sections were then CNC-routed, and individually screwed to the facade using austenitic stainless steel screws. Initially, we considered using notches of two different depths to form the two separate fish, but 3D computer modelling and a 1:1 softwood sample led to the alternating notches finally used. The curved ends to the notches help the facade to shed water, but they are also a pragmatic development of the best way to use CNC cutting tools on such a hard wood.

We are pleased with the way that changing light conditions quietly reveal and hide the fish. Richard Battye, architect, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. The timber rainscreen cladding is made from FSC-certified cumaru, a dense hardwood that we used as shiplap cladding at Northampton Academy (2006). The timber’s strength and durability allow it to be machined down to a very narrow section. We took advantage of this when creating the imprint of the two fish, Ichthus, that swim across the 40m facade.

The 560 individual projecting sections that make up the school’s Liverpool Road facade were sorted to ensure that the cumaru’s natural colour variation was well mixed. The numbered sections were then CNC-routed, and individually screwed to the facade using austenitic stainless steel screws. Initially, we considered using notches of two different depths to form the two separate fish, but 3D computer modelling and a 1:1 softwood sample led to the alternating notches finally used. The curved ends to the notches help the facade to shed water, but they are also a pragmatic development of the best way to use CNC cutting tools on such a hard wood. We are pleased with the way that changing light conditions quietly reveal and hide the fish.

Richard Battye, architect, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

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