Cladding solution for flagship proton beam therapy centre

Shackerley ceramic granite ventilated cladding system used on the facade of new cancer centre at The Christie Hospital

The cladding solution from Shackerley helps to make the building blend in with its surroundings

A ceramic granite ventilated cladding system has been used on the flagship new Proton Beam Therapy Centre at The Christie Hospital in Manchester.

In addition to providing performance, durability and ease of maintenance Shackerley’s SureClad solution has been specified as a major façade element to create a sense of synergy and cohesion with neighbouring buildings.

Use of the system connects the new building visually with the existing Oak Road Treatment Centre, ensuring a level of familiarity for patients and their families.

The Christie is the largest single-location cancer centre in Europe, treating more than 44,000 patients each year.

The £100m high energy Proton Beam Therapy Centre, built by Interserve Construction, is a five-storey, 15,000sq m unit which includes a three-storey bunker where a cyclotron particle accelerator with an adjustable beam can be directed to any of three treatment rooms.

The task of combining the technical demands of the Proton Beam Therapy Centre building with the need to create an accessible and welcoming environment fell to the project’s design team at HKS Architects.

Franko Covington from HKS explains: “From the outset, the design approach was to focus on the patient experience.

“It was also important to communicate the prestige and importance of the new facility and maximise its prominent position near the hospital main entrance.

“This provided an opportunity to announce the facility’s importance to passers-by with signage, feature lighting, and quality cladding materials.”

The centre will deliver the most-up-to-date cancer treatments

A high-end finish

The SureClad ceramic granite cladding system was critical to achieving those key objectives, providing a high-end finish that creates a clean, contemporary appearance.

Meanwhile, the two contrasting shades of creamy beige and grey ‘Travertine’ SureClad façade panels create a natural finish in soft tones that will offer a warm, welcoming feel to the building and a subtly-reflective surface that connects the façades to the outdoor environment.

The building is accessed from Oak Road, so the visual synergy between the new facility and the Oak Road Treatment Centre provided by the cladding specification underlines the impression of a planned expansion of the cohesive campus.

The Proton Therapy Beam building is physically connected to the main hospital via a glazed walkway, and the contrast of the creamy-coloured cladding with the transparency of glazing is evident throughout the design of the building envelope.

The building’s heavy concrete structure, necessitated by the proton beam bunkers, made creation of texture and contrast one of the key design challenges. /p>

This was addressed by introducing natural light into the building, enabling views to the soft landscaping at the rear, and designating the main reception areas as a ‘winter garden’.

The SureClad facades are punctuated by windows of varying sizes and curtain walling at ground floor level.

A softer aesthetic

The patina of the SureClad façades helps to soften the building further still. While, from a distance the elevations appear to be solid blocks of grey and cream, on approaching nearer the building, the 1198mm x 598mm panels help to achieve the non-homogenous aesthetic of the façade.

The grey veining in Shackerley’s beige ceramic granite along with the lighter speckles of the grey panels also contribute to a less-clinical, more-natural aesthetic.

It was important to communicate the prestige and importance of the new facility and maximise its prominent position near the hospital main entrance

In addition to answering the aesthetic aspirations of the Proton Therapy Beam project, SureClad system’s durability, uniformity and long-term performance offered considerable practical, maintenance and whole-life cost benefits.

All panels of each colourway were fabricated from a single batch of ceramic granite, ensuring a precise match of colour and patina across the whole façade.

Alongside the standard, large-format panels, Shackerley also prefabricated a wide range of detailed and bracketed panel returns for window surrounds and corners to the specific delivery requirements of the programme.

Every panel and detail was supplied fully-prefabricated from Shackerley’s ISO 9001-certified factory, with all fixings, brackets and straps secured with undercut anchors, ready for immediate installation onto Shackerley’s innovative and patented, Queen’s Award-winning SureClad Access system.

Low maintenance

Reduced maintenance was another area of focus for the specification.

An engineered material, Shackerley’s SureClad ceramic granite is comparatively lightweight and robust, with none of the natural fissures and imperfections associated with quarried stone.

This reduces the structural loadings required by the system, reducing stress on the building.

The fully–vitrified material has virtually-zero porosity, as defined by BS EN14411.

This means that panels do not absorb contaminants and are completely unaffected by climatic extremes, as they conform to all international standards for freeze/thaw resistance, ensuring a robust, extended service life.

The colour and patina will not fade, even after intense or prolonged U/V light exposure, and the non-combustible (Class A1 to EN13501-1) material also offers excellent resistance to acids, alkalis and graffiti and does not promote algae growth.

These attributes add up to a long-term façade solution and ensure that the centre maintains its attractive aesthetic with minimal maintenance for the service life of the building.