Architectural aluminium façade specialists, Technal, in partnership with glazing fabricator AC Yule, have helped to transform the river frontage in Sunderland following the completion of a £1.8m glazing contract for a new award-winning apartments building.


Designed by Mario Minchella Architects, Echo 24 is a landmark 13-storey scheme at the edge of the city, which occupies the narrow island site of the former Sunderland Echo printworks overlooking the River Wear. The £38m building has already won the Building Control Quality Award for Best Regeneration Project.


Commenting on the design, Mario Minchella, Project Architect for Echo 24, said, “The external envelope is predominantly glazed in Technal’s curtain walling and window systems to allow uninterrupted views whilst addressing the very different characteristics of the two frontages. Technal met all our specification criteria – durability, weather performance, appearance and cost – helping us to create a really impressive building which has significantly enhanced the riverside in Sunderland.”


The south elevation of the building has an urban aspect at the lower levels and spectacular roof top views and coastal vistas. Here, heavier masonry and smaller openings using the high specification Technal FXi65 window system counter the acoustic factors for the lower floors with full height curtain walling at the upper levels to optimise the views as traffic-generated noise diminishes with height.


The north elevation is more peaceful and has dramatic views of the river mouth and sea beyond. Technal’s curtain walling was used to provide a lightweight fully glazed façade that maximises the views from every apartment and allows more natural light into the building. The transparency and reflectivity of this façade helps to integrate the scheme into its surroundings and link both the land and the sea.


Steel balconies are reminiscent of a boat deck and are accessed from the apartments by the Technal FXi52 balcony doors. The balconies were also used for installation of the curtain walling, eliminating the need for scaffolding, which improved safety and reduced cost.


The curtain walling to the vertical circulation zones is recessed and was structurally bonded for further transparency, providing an additional architectural feature.


Fabricated and installed by AC Yule, all Technal’s systems were finished in marine grade silver polyester powder coating because of the scheme’s exposed location, and glazed in Saint-Gobain green tinted solar control glass. The glass specification was adjusted throughout the building according to height and proximity to the road, in order to meet the varying acoustic requirements.


The FXi65 windows were specified in a tilt/turn configuration for safe and easy cleaning by residents, and insulated ceramic panels between floor levels on the north elevation further improve thermal performance and provide visual continuity during the day. At night, the parallel bands of transparent and opaque glazing give the façade a completely different and striking appearance.


As part of its ongoing product development programme, Technal, part of Hydro Building Systems, has recently launched the MX curtain walling suite – the first in the UK to offer such a wide range of design options from a single grid. This gives specifiers the opportunity to vary the appearance of the building envelope, with all the advantages of one fully integrated system – consistent site lines and interfaces, simplified specification, and ease of fabrication and installation, cost efficiency and reduced time on site.


The design options in the MX suite include low to high rise visible grid curtain walling, MX Trame Verticale and Horizontale, ribbon, faceted, structurally bonded, beaded and sloped glazing.

Echo 24, Sunderland

Echo 24, Sunderland

Echo 24, Sunderland