When a client uses your product again on their very next project and the planners cite it as the example to follow, you must be doing something right. That is exactly what happened when Taylor Maxwell supplied their stone cladding system for a £12.5 million build in a historic part of Edinburgh…
Building in a conservation city requires extremely sensitive design. When CAG Architects set about designing Shrubhill, 7000m2 of student accommodation and retail space on the hillside where Edinburgh slopes down to meet Leith, they had to take into account the rich and diverse architectural and cultural heritage of the district.
Architect Gregor Small explained the thinking that went into the design of the new building on Leith Walk - the main artery linking Edinburgh and Leith: “It’s an interesting, quite bohemian part of the town with an eclectic mix of buildings and shops. It has its own character and a lot of people have lived there all their lives. Shrubhill itself is predominately ground plus 4 storeys in elevation, and we designed it to be similar to the sandstone tenements existing in Leith. The building descends as Leith Walk steps down and the individual facade widths of the blocks replicate those of the tenements. We went for that look as the primary purpose of the building is to be a domestic property for students.”
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Planners liked the stone finish, but initially insisted the building be clad in solid stone on all four storeys which would have proved too costly for the client, Ziggurat Student Living.
Ogilvie Construction, the lead contractor on the project, had approached Taylor Maxwell and other suppliers to try to find a stone cladding system that would meet the financial and planning requirements of the build.
Taylor Maxwell offered to supply solid Stanton Moor buff sandstone for the ground storey, and for the upper levels, a stone cladding system fronted with the same stone. The panels significantly reduced material costs and installation time, and the planners gave them the thumbs up once they had seen how similar they looked to the solid stone. “Taylor Maxwell produced stone samples which were essential in getting planning permission from Edinburgh City Council.” Gregor Small reported. “They provided a 4m2 panel onsite and that was the clincher, it had all the corners and angles as well as some of the solid stone. Their work and endeavour got us over the line in terms of ensuring the planners would be happy with the end result.”
When it came to putting the design vision into practice, time was tight.
“There was an absolute drop-dead completion date to be ready for the student intake in September, so the client was happy that it could be installed quickly and completed in one calendar year. That was almost as important as the aesthetics!” recalled Gregory Small.
Taylor Maxwell played a role in ensuring the project met its demanding deadline according to Ogilvie Construction project director Stewart Edgar: “Once the stone was ordered, it was all available on time and in all the right quantities. The overall service from Taylor Maxwell was very good. They pay attention to your needs and they really didn’t put a foot wrong.
Pictures show Shrubhill is a worthy addition to the architectural tradition of Edinburgh. The results were so effective that Ogilvie have decided to use the stone cladding system again on a nearby student block further up Leith Walk using a different type of British sandstone.
Stewart Edgar said: “Shrubhill has attracted positive comments from anyone who has seen it, the finish is of a very high quality utilising traditionally built 100mm thick sandstone on the ground floor with the stone cladding system above. The quality of the stone is consistent and it’s well-sized, it just looks really good.”
The reaction of the planners shows that the stone cladding system really was the right way to make a new building blend into a historical area at a reasonable price, as Gregor Small concluded; “I think it’s worked really well, we would say that but the real proof is that a number of new buildings in central Edinburgh are now adopting the same cladding system that can be used with British sandstones that you would expect to see in the city. It’s gone from something that we had to convince the planners of, to something the planners are recommending.”
“Shrubhill has attracted positive comments from anyone who has seen it, the finish is of a very high quality utilising traditionally built 100mm thick sandstone on the ground floor with the stone cladding system above. The quality of the stone is consistent and it’s well-sized, it just looks really good.”
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