PROJECT FOCUS: The Ashford Unit, Southampton

South East based BBS Facades and Brandclad have recently worked together to successfully complete a complex rainscreen cladding project that showcased the technical capabilities of both teams.

A new build mental health unit in Southampton, known as Ashford, is run by Southern Health Trust. Designed as a supportive and safe residential 10-bed facility for men with a learning disability who have been detained under the Mental Health Act, the building posed specific challenges for the for architects and contractors involved in delivering the eye-catching building. Certainly, the building needed to be welcoming and attractive, but it also had the meet the specific needs of the patients and the 40+ healthcare professionals working at the site.

Using 10mm Trespa Meteon cladding (in four shades of green) to create a distinctive central upper floor façade, most of the building envelope was clad in a much warmer wood effect Meteon board.

All of the ‘green splash’ cladding and lower level wood effect Trespa board was fixed using colour matched rivets. This created an attractive aesthetic look but also met with the budget and the strict safety requirements specified on the original designs.

Ashford, Tatchbury Mount Southampton photography by Sarah Gaunt, taken April 2nd 2021

Ricky Beadle, area sales manager at BBS Facades, explains: “Given the nature of this building – as a residential mental health unit – the architects were very clear about the safety aspects of the construction. This meant that all of the lower level Trespa boards (in wood effect) had to be chamfered to a 45o angle. Using our in-house fabrication facility enabled us to cut each board down to size, while achieving the required angles without a problem. Achieving this level of consistent quality would have been impossible if it was attempted on-site. Using our CNC controlled saws, in conjunction with our MagiCut design solution enabled us to optimize the job, minimizing waste and eradicating costly mistakes.”

Similar in nature to many school projects, the Ashford build specified chamfered edges to discourage climbing on the lower level walls. This effect also enables installers to create gaps of just 8mm between the boards, thus minimising self-harm and accidental injury from trips or falls.  Similarly, all of the rainwater pipes fitted on the building are anti-vandal, preventing climbing.

Creating the distinctive tower, clad in four shades of Trespa Meteon, was another technical challenge that faced the contractors. Senior estimator at Brandclad, Andrew Bosworth, said: “The cladding design for the tower required very specific cuts, given the fact we had designed a fixing solution that would only work if the tightest tolerances were achieved. Using Ash & Lacy’s AxiAL fixings, we employed AutoCAD to design a sophisticated solution which created the illusion of a round tower, without the need to bend or fix any boards under pressure. We had to position the brackets onto the Metsec frames meticulously to achieve the finished look – we’re really pleased with the final outcome.”

Ricky Beadle of BBS Façades added: “We’re very proud of this project as it shows off our skills when it comes to working as part of a team and achieving very high rates of accuracy. The Ashford building is deceptively complex. In addition to the 10 bedrooms, it comprises lots of clinic and office space; a de-escalation and seclusion area; a dining room; sensory, music and art rooms; a fitness suite and activity room; a family visiting room; a quiet room; plus a multi-faith room; and a sunny garden space. This complexity is echoed by the front façade of the building – which really showcases what can be achieved using a range of coloured cladding to achieve a very attractive look. It’s also safe and meets the very specific needs of the building’s users.”

In various parts of the Ashford development other tactile building materials were used – such as treated Canadian red cedar and brickwork – to create warm, textured finished to the external envelope.

“It was a much more complex project than it first looked,” concludes Bealde. “But the finished results are really worth the time and effort spent getting the cladding and fixings right. The team at Brandclad did a commendable job on the design side of the project and deserve recognition for delivering a deceptively complicated job with no stoppages or disruptions.”

Project details

Project: Ashford Unit, Southern Health Trust, Southampton

Main contractor: Kier Construction

Installer: Brandclad

Cladding products: Trespa Meteon (various green and wood effect – all 10mm) / Norclad Red Cedar

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