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KAWNEER GOES OFF-SITE IN IRELAND

An off-site curtain walling system by Kawneer was specified for the focal point of an Irish town centre’s redevelopment, that focussed on sustainable and Modern Methods of Construction, for a multitude of reasons, not least its aesthetics, low maintenance and ability to meet a host of performance criteria.

Selected by Murray O’Laoire architects, some 660m˛ of Kawneer’s AA®201 unitised system has been used on two elevations of the iconic, 12-storey Sheraton Athlone Hotel in Athlone, Co Westmeath, which is now one of the tallest landmarks in the Irish Midlands.

A standard, off-the-shelf system, it was supplied by Kawneer to a Dublin-based approved installer as four-sided, structural silicone glazed panels that are genuinely curved (as opposed to facetted) around the corner between the two elevations. The design also included half-panels at alternate storeys.

The 12-storey signature tower overlooking the River Shannon is at the heart of Athlone’s award-winning €500million eight-acre mixed-use redevelopment that includes 67 retail units, 1,300 car parking spaces over three basements, 145 two-bedroomed, dual-aspect apartments, and the 167-bed, four-star hotel.

As the Sheraton Athlone hotel is linked directly to a shopping mall, access was extremely limited and the completed curtain walling panels had to be loaded into stillages which were lifted onto the hotel roof. The site tower crane was then used to lift the panels into place from above while all installation staff worked in harnessed safety from inside the building.

The sub-contractor installed 12 units or 36m˛ per day and the whole contract took around 25 working days – just a fraction of the time it would have taken a traditional stick system which would have also required more time (at least seven times), more staff and access equipment such as scaffolding.

Kawneer’s standard AA®201 profile was adapted to meet Murray O’Laoire’s design requirements as opposed to most unitised systems which are based on bespoke designs produced specifically for the project in question.

Stephen O’Driscoll, of Murray O’Laoire, said: “We wanted a floor to ceiling modular glazing system that achieved the highest possible fire, acoustic, thermal and aesthetic standards while also being able to replace the panels easily in the event of damage from the cleaning cradle.

“We also did not want a conventional pressure cap system or one that would be difficult to clean and maintain. The lack of spandrel panels at floor slabs is also visually more pleasing. The client is very happy. They had initial concerns about replacing a damaged panel but this has been demonstrated in practice.”

Constructed primarily of a concrete twin wall with precast floor slabs and stairs and bathroom pods throughout, there was “a huge emphasis on off-site construction” he added.

And while all the cooling of the retail units is by a groundwater heat exchange system (there is no air-cooled plant whatsoever in the retail element) and the malls are naturally ventilated, the Kawneer curtain walling clads the “the landmark element of the development and controls solar and heat gain to the upper rooms.”

Mark Wainwright, Kawneer’s special projects manager, said: “On this project, the really big advantage is that we were able to completely dispense with external scaffolding. There was not one custom extrusion, this was completed with a standard system.”

Email: kuk.kawneer@alcoa.com


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