The new £12 million Performing Arts Centre, currently under construction in Berkshire at Wellington College, is an ambitious, creatively designed architectural solution for a specific brief. The new auditorium building will be linked to the existing theatre with a glass-encased “cultural living room” which will act as performance and exhibition space, green room, meeting room and lobby. The design, by Studio Seilern Architects, won the World Architecture Festival’s Future Educational Project award in 2015.
Located at the edge of the Bracknell Forest, which adjoins the grounds of the historic public school, the new complex features an unusual wood façade that will connect it visually to both the forest and the Victorian-era school buildings. The rough sawn larch cladding has been stained to a natural-looking soft dark colour that blends with the forest backdrop.
Protecting the building envelope behind this creative facade is Powerlon UV Colour FR, an advanced UV resistant breather membrane that is flame retardant to Class 0 (BS 476 Parts 6&7) and Class B (EN 13501-1), an important consideration for this safety critical installation. The membrane’s outstanding UV resistance, attractive colour and high specification mean that natural gaps between the vertical wooden strips of the facade do not compromise the building’s integrity. Powerlon building membranes are produced by Industrial Textiles & Plastics (ITP), a UK manufacturer with specialist expertise in flame retardant technology.
“The circular form of the performing arts centre dictated a requirement for an external cladding material able to form a curve; the larch planks were chosen not just for this ability, but also to ‘blend’ into its woodland setting. The design for the cladding featured gaps between each plank and as it would be partly visible, SSA required a solid black backing membrane with UV, water and tear resistance. Powerlon UV Colour FR was specified due to its aesthetic quality and high resistance to UV exposure,” explained Christina Seilern of SSA.
Realising the project are main contractors, Beard Construction. Project Manager Bob Still said, “The performing arts centre is a prestigious project for our customer and finding the most suitable and robust materials to use is always priority. The Powerlon membrane was a simple product to install with clear and concise instructions on its application. The site team found ITP very knowledgeable and helpful when investigating the best product to use and their service was quick and efficient.”