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Theme: cladding

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Case Study: Airbus Manufacturing Centre, Broughton

The European aeroplane manufacturer Airbus is currently investing in manufacturing sites across Europe for its new double-decker 'Super-Jumbo' A380, due in service in 2006. The design, manufacturing and testing programmes have already been going on for a number of years.

The new Airbus Manufacturing Centre at Broughton in north Wales is an interesting example of the use of several different cladding materials, both externally and internally, to create an attractive and modern envelope to a very large industrial building. Most of the issues identied in the main theme have had a signicant impact on the choice and detailing of cladding types and materials used.

The client's primary objective for its site near Chester was, understandably, to house its manufacturing processes in a clean, modern and ef cient factory environment.

The building had to be exible and capable of expansion and change. The client took a personal interest in achieving its dual aims of creating a world-class working environment and minimising any adverse impact of creating such a large new building on its own environment. At the same time, Airbus wanted the aesthetics of the building to be representative of the high-tech and highly engineered products within.

The building is huge - more than 400m long, 200m wide and 35m high.

It has a footprint in excess of 7 hectares, large enough to accommodate 12 football pitches. The total area of roof and wall cladding is more than 10 hectares. Such a large area of roof cladding alone required a rational design approach. The solution was to use a Sarna low-pitch, single-ply membrane roo ng system to minimise variations in roof steelwork in creating the falls. Large walk-in gutters and syphonic drainage systems by Full ow are sized to accommodate the worst 100-year storms.

Parapets provide 'positive edge-protection' from falls and help to generate the aesthetic of crisp lines to the building form, avoiding the more mundane sawtooth pro le of the pitched roofs behind.

The requirement to create a good internal working environment introduced quite large areas of glazing into the external building envelope to provide views out and to allow natural light to penetrate deep into building. This helps create visual links for personnel within the factory to their outside environment, particularly from the wing-equipping hall out towards the runway, enabling employees to make the mental connection between their products of wings in manufacture and aeroplanes taking-off and landing outside. Both sides of the projecting roo ights are faced with GRP twin-wall translucent sheets to provide diffused lighting into the factory at regular centres. The rooflights are expressed along the front elevation of the building as projecting bays of accommodation - containing the sprinkler-system riser mains and the gantry fi re-escape stairs - with glazed reveals of back-to-back twin-wall Reglit glass panels to the main elevation.

The Reglit continues along the base of the building to provide distant views of the horizon for personnel on the factory floor, using a fairly robust transparent material that is not too susceptible to knocks. This is interspersed with panels of Baggeridge Staffordshire Blue brickwork that enables the client to position stores in a variety of locations. A single large area of clear Schuco curtain walling visually identifi es the building entrance and provides a focus for views out of the factory from anywhere within the central spine of offices and IPT (integrated project-team) accommodation towards the Welsh hills.

From an aesthetic point of view, the external cladding materials were chosen to refl ect the 'engineered' processes being carried out within the building. They contrast the metallic finishes of silver microrib Europanel composite panels to the face of projecting bays, with the darker metallic pewter colour of the heavily textured Gasell profi ed cladding. The gable ends of the building were clad with a mixture of Gasell profiles in a light grey colour chosen to match other existing wartime hangars elsewhere on the site. Inevitably, such a large building will be seen from a considerable distance and a secondary, larger grid-work of 'panel joints', which are 7.5m square to the projecting bays and 7.5m x 15m to the main facade, are expressed with a special joint feature. These, together with the texture of the Gasell profi le, help add interest to the building form when seen from a distance and reveal progressively more detail as one approaches the facility. Highlight colours of bright yellow are used to accent both ends of the central spine of accommodation and identify the main entrance. The same yellow is used to denote key locations within the factory, such as staircases, which are clad with yellow Ranilla composite panels and large 'supergraphics' that are seen throughout the factory. Other key locations are also identifi ed in yellow, for example the various store doors that allow deliveries to be directed around the factory as part of the just-in-time strategy for parts delivery.

Bolton Gate installed many of the external doors, while the large 'hangar doors' were provided by Jewers Doors. As the building is in operation 24 hours a day, the areas of glazing glow at night and break up the mass of what would otherwise be a very large and unrelieved building form.

Airbus chose to comply with the requirements of the new Part L2 document in terms of thermal insulation of wall and roof cladding, even though building control did not require this at the time.

The roof build-up uses large areas of lowweight Kingspan PIR insulation, which is protected, co-incidentally, by the roof-level sprinkler system required by the client's insurers. Elsewhere, fi re compartmentation is completed with Rockwool Hardrock roof insulation. Wall cladding systems use largely fibreglass or Rockwool insulation, depending on the acoustic attenuation properties required for the various elevations of the building.

The ú140 million construction project was built in just two years from inception to completion, using a collaborative working approach, with Laing O'Rourke leading the team. FaulknerBrowns designed the building envelope in conjunction with Hathaway Roofing, which completed the detail design and installed the cladding.

John Holt is a director of FaulknerBrowns


Baggeridge 1400 Bitite 1401 Bolton Gate 1402 CBS 1403 Colt 1404 Corus 1405 Europanel 1406 Fullfl ow 1407 Gasell 1408 Hathaway Roofing 1409 Hoesch 1410 Isoclad 1411 Jewers Doors 1412 Kingspan 1413 Levolux 1414 McVeigh Insulations 1415 Okalux 1416 Permasteelisa 1417 Pilkington 1418 Ranilla 1419 Rautaruukki 1420 Reglit 1421 Rockwool 1422 Saint-Gobain 1423 Sarna 1424 Schmidlin 1425 Schuco 1426 Ward 1427

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