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Showcasing AluK Curtain Walling in a 21st Century Schools Setting

The newly opened £24m Torfaen Learning Zone in Cwmbran is a showcase for AluK’s SL52 capped, mullion drained curtain walling system, complete with punched open-in windows in the thermally efficient AluK 77IWE casement system.

Part of the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Education programme, it is the new home of learning for all those aged 16 and over in Cwmbran and caters for 1300 students. It has been built on a brownfield site in the centre of the town and will form part of a wider development, also set to include offices, a hotel and retail and hospitality outlets.

Procured within the SEWSCAP 2 Framework, Torfaen Learning Zone has been developed by Interserve on behalf of Coleg Gwent and Torfaen Council.  It features four-storeys of study and training facilities, including extendable classrooms with moveable walls, two atriums, performance and social spaces and an enclosed roof garden.

The entire fenestration package was fabricated and installed by Gloucester-based Aluminium Sashes and was unusual in that some of the open-in windows had to be glazed into an outward sloping façade.

AluK’s specification team worked directly with Torfaen Council’s architects to review the system options on the project and produce the specification clauses and structural analysis of the profiles required ahead of the tender. They also provided the thermal calculations required to demonstrate that the SL52 and 77IWE systems could meet the project design and the 1.4Wm2K thermal performance requirements.

AluK supported Aluminium Sashes with pricing and project particulars during the tender process to various main contractors, and once appointed, arranged training at the AluK Academy on the nuances of the punched window fabrication.

Alongside the windows and curtain walling, the project also included automated aluminium entrance doors in AluK’s Secured By Design accredited GT55 system, complete with anti-finger trap devices.

Sean Anderson, Managing Director of Aluminium Sashes, explained the challenges presented by the project and the overall success story: “Much of the supply and fit was completed during the pandemic, so we had to manage social distancing in our factory and on site. Nonetheless, we completed on time and the result is impressive.”

Neil Smith, National Sales Manager from AluK, added: “Our SL52 system offered the thermal and weather performance required on this project, coupled with consistent 50mm sightlines and the reassurance of successful CWCT Sequence B testing. It gave the architects the design flexibility they needed for the different facades on the building, with a range of glazing infills, face caps and integrated window options available.”

Alex Anderson, Head of Estate Development at Coleg Gwent, commented on the finished building: “We’re really pleased with the new development. The distinctive ‘red wedge’ in the façade definitely helps to give us a strong identity within Cwmbran town centre.”

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