Sep 17, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

Ideal Service for Lancaster University Chaplaincy

Published in Product Innovation
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Instantly recognisable from the university logo and a statement example of modern architecture that heralds the entrance to campus, Lancaster University’s chaplaincy is a striking building with three circular flat roofs and a central three-pronged spire. Each vertical prong of the spire rises to a different height in a trio of curved structures rising from the fascia.


Constructed in 1969, the building is much more than a landmark; it is a vital part of pastoral life on campus. Two of the building’s circular sections contain two Christian chapels (one Roman Catholic and one Anglican), while the third and largest section of the building contains a large social space and areas for Jewish worship and observance, along with a quiet room used for worship by the Quakers, Bahá’ís and other faiths.

Lancaster is one of only a handful of UK universities with a purpose-built, multi-faith chaplaincy and the building is in daily use by both religious and non-religious groups. When water ingress began to create issues with leaks and damage, the university took urgent action to carry out a full roof refurbishment.

The project has recently been named as ‘Project of the Year (under 1000m²)’ in the Liquid Waterproofing Roofing Association (LWRA) awards. The complex programme, delivered by Sika Liquid Plastics’ quality assured (QA) contractors’ vertical access and roofing contractor, Permicoat, used Sika Liquid Plastics’ virtually odourless Decothane Ultra cold-applied liquid system.

Unobtrusive and hardwearing

While the chaplaincy building is not listed, the university was keen that the refurbishment project should respect the original aesthetic and fabric of the structure, in particular the distinctive white finish of the fascia and the spire.

Use of a waterproofing system that would avoid the risk and disruption of hot works while minimising nuisance odours and noise was vital so that the building could remain operational throughout the project.

Roof repairs

Sika Liquid Plastics’ area technical manager carried out a full site survey and condition report to inform the specification of the 960m² roof and spires which was developed by the SLP Technical Services team. The virtually odourless Decothane Ultra system was specified in standard grey for the roof surfaces and white for the fascia and spires to match the theme of the existing building.

The original mineral felt roof had failed at the gutters and drainage outlets and the roof areas where water ingress had been most severe were badly degraded, with damage to the insulation. In these areas, the insulation was cut away and replaced by sections of Sika Liquid Plastics’ Decotherm insulation board. Once these areas of the roof had been made good, the surface was over-boarded using tongue and groove board and the installation team then applied Sika Liquid Plastics’ S-VAP 5000 self-adhesive vapour control and carrier membrane before applying the two-coat Decothane Ultra liquid roofing system.

Sika Liquid Plastics’ applications team made regular site visits throughout the programme to ensure installation integrity and provide support with detailing requirements.

White spire

In addition to the water ingress issues with the roof, the building had also been affected by damp to the fascia areas due to the failure of the surface coating that had previously been used to create the white finish.

To address this area of the structure, the decision was taken to strip out the compromised fascia and replace it with a ply system. To ensure a neat finish and provide a robust, even surface for the spires, the project team also over-boarded these areas with 6mm ply, maintaining the distinctive curved shape while improving the finish.

Once the fascia and spire boarding were complete, these surfaces were prepared using Sika Liquid Plastics’ Primer 600, followed by the S-VAP 5000 self-adhesive carrier membrane. The white Decothane Ultra cold-applied system was then installed on the vertical surfaces of the fascia and spires, with best practice application supported by Sika Liquid Plastics’ applications team.

Phil Purcer, Managing Director at Permicoat, comments: “Decothane Ultra provided the ideal system for this project as it meant that we could work on the occupied building without disturbing the occupants and address the university’s requirements for a hardwearing finish that’s sympathetic to the original design intent of the building.

“The liquid system also enabled us to follow the exact contours of the fascia and spire features while enabling us to encapsulate all horizontal, vertical and curved surfaces.”

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