Architectural aluminium glazing specialist, Technal, is helping to create a highly distinctive façade for an innovative new campus building at the University of Sunderland, using two variations of the MX curtain walling system.


The CitySpace facility has also been selected by the ODA as an Olympic and Paralympic training camp for London 2012.


Designed by FaulknerBrowns and now under construction by Morgan Ashurst, the £12m landmark building is due to open towards the end of 2009.


Glazing contractors, AC Yule, worked with the design team from the earliest stages to develop a highly engineered solution using two options from the MX curtain wall suite, giving the appearance of bespoke façades but with all the cost, lead-time and performance advantages of a proven Technal system.


For the first time, Technal’s MX SSG structural sealant glazing system will be used to form coloured openings between pre-cast concrete panels in a striking random pattern.

MX SSG is a flush curtain walling option which will meet the architect’s requirements for less visible aluminium and clear expanses of glass. Interlayers for the laminated glass in five shades of green will highlight the glazing between 3m by 4m L-shaped concrete panels on the prominent south elevation, which is on one of the main routes into Sunderland.


The solid mass of the south elevation will move to a more open, highly glazed façade on the east side of the building that overlooks the university square. Here, the Visible Grid option from the MX curtain wall suite will create a more transparent appearance and allow high levels of natural light for the main entrance, ground floor retail unit and fitness studio above.


On this elevation, the horizontal profiles in the curtain walling will be staggered at different heights to add further interest, and a large section of the glazing will be set into a ‘grey box’. This will provide a visual connection with the award-winning Gateway campus building that was also designed by FaulknerBrowns and features Technal’s glazing throughout.


On the new CitySpace building, linear roof lights will be formed from Technal’s MX Sloped Glazing to throw natural light back into the triple height social space and the split-level fitness studio.


Commenting on the design of the CitySpace building, Iain Bramble, Project Architect at FaulknerBrowns, said, “This ambitious, landmark building is seen very much as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Sunderland City campus. Our previous scheme on the site also uses Technal’s MX SSG frameless system, and won an award for its innovative use of aluminium glazing.”


“The MX SSG curtain wall is allowing us to create a striking, bespoke appearance for the most prominent façade of the new building, whilst also meeting the construction budget. It will give the effect of frameless openings set into irregular panels of concrete, and together with the full height grid curtain walling, it is helping us to realise our vision for an iconic building that will enhance the student experience and provide an Olympic standard sporting venue.


The CitySpace building will accommodate indoor sporting and social facilities, including a six badminton court sports hall, 70 station fitness suite, sports massage and injuries centre, multi-purpose room, indoor climbing wall, and retail, catering, leisure and exhibition spaces. It will also be a strong addition to the University’s support for world athletes following its selection as an Olympic Training Centre for the 2012 London Games.


The scheme will have a number of sustainable features and is aiming to achieve a BREEAM excellent rating. It will benefit from ground source heat pumps, high levels of natural light, rainwater harvesting, passive ventilation, and the coloured glass will help to reduce solar gain.

CitySpace, Sunderland University


CitySpace, Sunderland University