Oct 17, 2018 Last Updated 10:41 AM, Oct 15, 2018

Shackerley talks through its facade solution for Royal Liverpool University Hospital

Published in Upfront
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When opening the doors to its first patients later this year, the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital will be the largest in England to accommodate in-patients entirely in single en-suite bedrooms to deliver the highest standards of infection control and patient dignity.


Those high standards have been built into every aspect of the £329m PFI project’s construction, including extensive use of Shackerley’s SureClad ceramic granite ventilated facade system on the hospital’s external elevations. The high-quality finish the system provides will communicate the prestige of the development as a major hospital and gateway to the new Liverpool BioCampus, creating an impact on approaching the building from any direction and welcoming familiarity of colour and texture at street level.

Prestige and longevity

Designed to replace the existing Royal Liverpool Hospital with one of the largest and most advanced facilities in the UK, the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital will be a centrepiece of the proposed Liverpool BioCampus; a pivotal development for the North West and a key element in the regeneration of the ‘Knowledge Quarter’.

Once completed, the new hospital will boast 646 patient beds, including a 40-bed Intensive Therapy Unit, 18 state-of-the-art theatres and a large clinical research facility. The hospital is not only a landmark healthcare scheme for the NHS and its PFI partners; it’s also set to become a major landmark for Liverpool, creating a prestige development that sets the tone for the regenerated Edge Lane gateway into the city and the university district.

Specification of the external facade cladding was critical to delivering an impression of the importance of the scheme as visitors to the hospital and the city approach the building. Shackerley’s SureClad ceramic granite ventilated facade system has been specified with a honed ‘travertine’ finish for use on both the lower levels of the building and its key elevations, contrasting with the curtain walling of the central tower. The SureClad system not only answers the contemporary aesthetic and performance requirements of the project, its colour and texture also reference the traditional Portland stone so prevalent in Liverpool, particularly on the city’s UNESCO Heritage Site waterfront, thereby connecting the building to the context of its location.

An exceptionally hard and durable material made entirely from natural inert elements, ceramic granite is non-combustible (meets Class 0) and has virtually zero porosity (as defined by BS EN14411). Impermeable and completely weatherproof, ceramic granite is also UV resistant and will not support algae or absorb airborne contaminants. This means that the strong and lightweight SureClad panels will retain their attractive appearance for longer and require minimal maintenance, making the system an ideal long-term cladding solution for such a prominent landmark building within the Knowledge Quarter regeneration.

Extensive prefabrication

One of the most complex ventilated cladding projects ever delivered by Shackerley, the Royal Liverpool University Hospital development has involved 8282m2 of SureClad ceramic granite facade. In total, over 34,000 individual ceramic granite panels were specially cut or calibrated to an exacting schedule based on a modular facade design comprising 14 standard formats.

All prefabrication took place at Shackerley’s ISO 9001-accredited production plant in Lancashire. After the panels had been cut to size they were drilled using specialist undercut drilling machinery and fitted with SureClad Access system fixing straps, which were secured using a patented undercut anchorage system.

The majority of these panels were supplied as individual pieces, however, Shackerley also helped to speed up and simplify the installation of the facades by creating more than 8000 bracketed corner sections, returns and reveals as single-piece, installation-ready units. The visible edges of all the panels fabricated for use in this way were mitred to create neat, ‘birdsmouth’ detailing.

These specially-bracketed features required fixing in one plane only, eliminating the need for the carrier support system to be extended around window areas.

The prefabricated facade system also included the use of around 150,000 individual stainless steel undercut anchors, used to attach almost 51,000 SureClad Access System straps and 16,500 brackets to the panels.

The system has been installed by building envelope contractor, FK Group, and the company worked closely with Shackerley to ensure that panels were delivered to site in sequence on a just in time basis.

Explains Chris Jones from FK Group: “Shacklerley’s meticulous quality control and monitoring system was critical when it came to processing a project order of this scale and complexity. Every panel in every batch was specially coded and tracked as it passed through the prefabrication process, palletisation stage and delivery to Liverpool. Each delivery was scheduled strictly in accordance with the installation programme on site, which avoided the potential for any mistakes or delays on site, speeding up installation for our team and aiding quality assurance.”

Production capabilities

The project involved 22km of heavy-duty cutting to create the 14 main modular format panels, along with hundreds of further panels, which had to be cut to bespoke sizes in line with the precise dimensions of the building.

Explains John Doran, Technical Director at Shackerley: “Each and every prefabricated SureClad panel had to be cut and assembled with absolute precision to ensure that the system fitted together accurately on site. The facade was like a giant jigsaw puzzle with a complex configuration of the different panel sizes fitting together in an apparently random, but actually very minutely planned, layout. The progress of the installation on site relied on Shackerley producing the right panels in the right sequence with total accuracy. In all, we delivered 647 pallets of SureClad panels to the installation team, adhering very closely to a just-in-time delivery schedule.”

Extended service life

Thanks to Shackerley’s experience of complex facade schemes and the company’s extensive production facilities, the company was uniquely capable of supplying an intricate project on this scale.

The use of the SureClad ceramic granite ventilated facade system as a major element of the external envelope will help to ensure that the building will retain its appearance as an exemplar 21st-century healthcare environment throughout the PFI period and beyond.

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