High Wycombe Leisure Centre

Skilful design by Space & Place Architects has avoided the large hill-top building imposing itself in a part of High Wycombe that contains areas of outstanding natural beauty.

High Wycombe Leisure Centre is clad mainly in aluminium, with Proteus HR TECU Patina used to create a striking Verdigris green copper clad entrance pod that projects outwards from the main building and overhangs the reception foyer.

A combination of skilful design and careful choice of façade material overcame the main challenge on this project, which is common to all sports centre buildings; that of minimising the visual impact of what are large square box-like structures.

At 10,750 m², including an 8 lane 50m swimming pool, 12 court sports hall, health suite, 150 station fitness suite, squash courts and bowls hall, the building had the potential to overly dominate its surroundings.

Avoiding this was helped by choosing copper cladding fixed to lightweight composite panels which enabled Space & Place Architects to minimise weight loadings on the overhanging entrance pod, accentuating the ‘floating’, gravity defying aesthetic. Supporting by only two slender steel pillars, the TECU Patina copper clad pod appears to hover over the main building like an otherworldly, organic apparition.

The rectangular TECU Patina panels are fixed in a vertical arrangement to create an eye-catching contrast to the thin, elongated, horizontal aluminium panels of the main façade. This mix of materials, panel design and colours compartmentalise the building, again minimising its visual impact on the landscape.

TECU Patina from Proteus offers the beautiful natural Verdigris green appearance of aged copper from the outset, and which would otherwise build up over the years through the natural oxidation process. This innovative cladding material bypasses the gradual development of the earthy tones through natural weathering.

Proteus HR, which has a honeycomb core, is an integrated modular rainscreen cladding system that offers a flat façade with recessed joints. It is available in steel, aluminium, zinc, stainless steel, copper alloys and other materials. The honeycomb core on Proteus HR minimises material use, whilst still retaining an optically flat panel, meaning it is a practical solution on a wider range of projects.

The Proteus HR TECU Patina cladding was fixed to lightweight Paroc composite panels with fire resistant stone-wool cores by MIZ Consultancy Ltd. The combination of insulated composite panel to form the inner leaf of the overhanging pod and visually striking copper clad outer enabled the architects to realise their vision for a ‘floating’ entrance feature.

Paul Clayton, Associate Director at Space & Place architects, said: “We choose to clad the entrance area at High Wycombe Sports Centre in pre-patinated copper panels because it created a distinct yet subtle point of arrival for visitors. We went through options for appearance of the building with Wycombe council, as it’s positioned at the top of hill in a residential area. We felt that the copper cladding from Proteus softened the building’s appearance on the side that faces open country and beyond.”

Proteus worked closely with the glazing partner on this project to ensure that the large glass panels integrated seamlessly with the copper cladding, accentuating the sheer smooth aesthetic of the entrance façade.

Copper is one of the most versatile, attractive and adaptable architectural cladding materials available, providing consistent performance and a high level of aesthetic appeal. Advances in the oxidation process means that Proteus us now able to offer a wider diversity of green Verdigris patinations as well as alternative colours such as blue and red tones.

For those seeking the bright copper aesthetic before oxidation takes place, Proteus offer TECU Classic, optionally available with a special coating to stop the natural weathering process.

TECU Oxid offers a softer, aged beauty of natural earthy copper tones but which hasn’t yet reached the green Verdigris appearance.

Wycombe Sports Centre has doubled its membership since it opened. The main contractor on this project was Wilmott Dixon.

To read our blog about the options available with our copper cladding, click here.

Chester Theatre, Chester

Executed in Proteus HR TECU copper, the ribbed, abstracted rainscreen clad fins envelope the 150-seat studio theatre that sits on top of the main auditorium, creating a presence like no other.

The copper fins announce the new studio theatre, jutting outwardly and inwardly, with their slotted appearance being described as a touch of ‘1920s German Expressionist theatre’.

Clad entirely in Proteus rainscreen cladding this ‘copper pavilion’ jauntily points to the Chester skyline, bookending the western corner of the elongated square building, which is framed at one side by the town hall and cathedral at the other.

It was Cheshire West and Chester council that stepped in with a bold plan to deliver this £37m vision for transforming the Grade II-listed Odeon cinema building. Charged with implementing this ambitious plan was multi RIBA-award winning architects Bennetts Associates.

Bright and bold, the Proteus rainscreen clad studio theatre sits confidently above the much larger 800-seat theatre, comprising the new build elements. What was the existing Odeon has been transformed into a 94-seat ‘boutique’ cinema, library, restaurant/bar and café.

Visitors to the building cannot fail to notice that Bennetts Associates’ striking design makes a central play of the Proteus copper cladding. The gleaming, protruding copper-clad box will transition over time to an oxidised green that will echo the appearance of the original Odeon roof.

The Proteus HR cladding now cuts across the green tinged cast-glass panels and striated brickwork of Storyhouse, compositionally breaking up and blurring the lines between the refurbished and new build elements.

“The success of the Storyhouse design lies in the way the extension containing the theatre spaces was added to the shell of the Grade 2 listed 1930s Odeon. Whilst the proportions of the extension relate directly to the historic brick cinema, we used copper and glass to create the elevations, to provide contrast and to identify the main elements of the new building.

Proteus HR TECU cladding is used to clad the studio theatre and bar, which is expressed as an overhanging element on the skyline of the building. The flatness of the panels and the long-term beauty of the natural copper finish were key to this decision,” said Simon Erridge, Project Director, Bennetts Associates.

Storyhouse has been designed to the highest standards for audience comfort and sightlines. The same rigour has been applied to the rainscreen cladding, both visually and technically. The Proteus HR copper panels are fitted to rigid vertical mullions that are anchored to the backing wall with adjustable support brackets.

The intimate space that is enveloped with Proteus copper cladding looks set to become the hardest working space in the building. Retractable seating has been incorporated to allow for a flat floor for workshops and rehearsals, while as a performance space its intimacy allows for a close relationship between actor and audience.

Main contractor at Chester Storyhouse was Kier North West, with the cladding installed by Curtis Moore (Cladding Systems) Ltd.

JW3 (Jewish Community Centre) London

Proteus HR panels in artisan burnished TECU brass form a solid rainscreen base to the lower ground floor of the RIBA award-winning 35,000ft2 building while perforated single-skin Proteus SC panels, installed outside full-length glazing, screen elements of the first and second floors.

Ten years in the making, the project was the brainchild of Dame Vivien Duffield after she toured several Jewish Community Centres in America and was inspired by their values, in particular their principle of inclusivity, and by the quality of the facilities and programming they offered.

She set about laying the foundations for a “Jewish Community Centre without walls” in London, initially in borrowed venues, and then eventually in its own purpose-built BREEAM rated “Excellent” building in Hampstead.

Beautiful, functional and state-of-the-art, this building consciously seeks to foster community and inspire creativity through its design and its very fabric – the Proteus cladding, over brick and cast stone.

To support its ambitious programming, the building features diverse facilities arranged hierarchically over four storeys, with the most public at ground level, spilling out onto a piazza which hosts food markets and outdoor cinema as well as ice-skating during the winter.

Designed to be a place of action, of creation and output rather than consumption of culture, robust, quality materials were chosen to support the various activities.

The heart of the building is Zest, JW3’s restaurant, bar and café run by award-winning Ottolenghi-trained chefs. This is complemented by a multi-purpose hall with retractable bleacher seating and semi-sprung floor, 60-seat boutique cinema, demonstration kitchen, dance studios, crèche, meeting rooms and classrooms.

Vertical Proteus HR and SC panels also help to break up the brick street-facing façade on a nine-storey residential tower that houses 14 two-bedroomed apartments and an office level, the sale of the apartments helping to fund the community centre.