Architectural aluminium systems specialist, Technal, in partnership with fabricator Baris Facades, has supplied glazing solutions for an £80m scheme in Leeds – the world’s tallest student accommodation building.


The second phase of the Sky Plaza development was designed by Carey Jones Architects and built by Shepherd Construction for UNITE, the UK’s leading developer and manager of student accommodation. It provides contemporary accommodation for more than 500 students, from single studio rooms to spacious flats with panoramic views, in a striking tower which spans 37 storeys.


The 104m high structure makes a dramatic impact on the city skyline. It features dark zinc cladding with deeply recessed Technal FXi65 casement windows to the north façade. Vertical strips of MX grid curtain walling support aluminium composite panels and large picture windows on the south elevation.


Technal’s MX curtain walling was also used to form the horizontal link and the vertical strips of glazing where phase two of the development joins the first phase.


The windows were provided in a tilt/turn configuration for each level up to level 19, with internal beading for fast replacement glazing, and the ‘turn’ mechanism locked off for safety. Fixed lights were installed to the upper floors where the apartments are comfort cooled.


Commenting on the scheme, Chris Robson, Technical Co-ordinator at Carey Jones Architects, said, “Our design brief was to create an iconic building and a landmark development for student accommodation in the heart of Leeds.”


“Our specification for the window and curtain walling systems was for enhanced thermal performance and insulation qualities, a slim and crisp finish to the profiles, and good colour consistency for the powder coatings. We also required systems with variable depths to accommodate different glass thicknesses for additional acoustic protection to the lower levels of the building as it is located close to the inner ring road.”


“We are pleased with the choice of façade systems used. Technal’s products are good, are performing well and have contributed to an excellent building.”


Together with the first phase, the Sky Plaza development has created a student village for up to 1,500 students. The second phase provides 349,000sqft of student living accommodation and 4,400sqft of retail space, and is UNITE’s largest project to date.


Technal’s FXi65 casement window features attractive curved profiles and provides superior thermal efficiency, using a 19mm flush polyamide thermal break and innovative gasket detailing to meet or exceed the latest Building Regulations.


The 65mm module allows more economical glass specifications to be used, whilst still delivering the targeted U-value. The FXi65 system will also accommodate 17mm up to 48mm glazing units for wider choice to deliver additional thermal or acoustic performance. Configuration options include fixed lights, top, side and bottom hung, pivot, tilt/turn and tilt/slide.


MX curtain walling is fully compatible with the FXi window range, and can be used to create a wide variety of architectural compositions from a single grid system – low to high rise façades, horizontal or vertical emphasis, and ribbon, structural, faceted, beaded and sloped glazing. MX Acoustic for additional noise protection and MX62 for larger glass sizes are the latest additions to the extensive range of MX curtain walling options.


Client: UNITE Group plc
Main contractor: Shepherd Construction
Architects: Carey Jones
Project manager: Stace
Structural engineer: WSP
Services consultant: Brentwood Design Group
Windows/curtain walling systems: Technal
Façade contractor: Baris Facades and Linings
Façade fabricator: QIC
Project Name: Sky Plaza
Project Location: Leeds

Sky Plaza, Leeds


Sky Plaza, Leeds


Sky Plaza, Leeds