Merchant Gate, Wakefield

Developer: Muse Developments/English Cities Fund
Design and build contractors:
Clegg Construction – commercial and residential blocks
 Vinci Construction – car park
Architects: Carey Jones Chapmantolcher
Fabricator and installer: Dortech Architectural Systems 
Products: MX curtain walling – MX62, MX Visible Grid, MX faceted


An award-winning city centre regeneration project in Wakefield was one of the first applications of the MX62 curtain walling option – developed to accommodate larger dimensions and maximise natural light.


Designed by Carey Jones Chapmantolcher, the first phase of the £140m Merchant Gate development is located in the heart of Wakefield’s historic Civic Quarter and has created a vibrant new centre for business, leisure and living.  Five high specification buildings and a multi-storey car park feature more than 2,600sqm of MX curtain walling, fabricated and installed by Dortech Architectural Systems.



Achieving Large Unsupported Spans


The MX62 system was used for the ground floor retail units on each block, achieving large unsupported spans of up to 4.5m.  This latest addition to the MX range enables architects and contractors to specify even larger sizes of glass to help reduce the reliance on artificial lighting.


A maximum weight of 600kg per transom can be specified for MX62, compared to up to 400kg for the standard visible grid system.  It is available in three mullion/transom sizes – 80mm, 140mm and 200mm for further design flexibility and will accommodate 8mm to 44mm glazing as a flat façade.



A ‘Ribbon’ Effect


At Merchant Gate, the MX Visible Grid system was specified as bands of curtain walling for the upper floors of buildings E and F.  This ribbon effect is ‘broken up’ with the introduction of glazed spandrel panels in shades of green, yellow and blue.  In other areas, panels of glazing were set into resin concrete tiles and contrasting natural timber-faced laminate cladding panels.


The curtain walling was faceted to two corner elevations and also encloses the full height stair cores for the commercial and residential elements and the car park.


Finished in dark anthracite grey, the MX system carries a variety of glass specifications to meet the acoustic and solar control requirements according to the orientation of each elevation.  Top hung concealed vents provide natural ventilation throughout.



The Architect’s Perspective


Antony Hall, Associate, Carey Jones Chapmantolcher:


“Our requirements for the curtain walling were for a well-engineered system with crisp lines that would appear substantial and robust.  The concealed vents allowed us to insert windows into the curtain walling but with less visible aluminium, and the faceted glazing achieved a curve for two prominent corners but was a considerably more cost-effective solution than curved glass. The finished effect is very strong.”


“The use of the timber panel system adds a degree of warmth to the overall composition as parts of the scheme face a conservation area, and it has a unifying effect around the new public square.  It softens the more modern edges of the curtain walling and the other cladding systems.”



One of the Most Important Regeneration Projects


The 17-acre Merchant Gate development was identified as one of the most important regeneration projects in the North of England.  Phase one has created a lively and prosperous new quarter through a combination of mixed-use buildings, delivering 66 one and two bedroom apartments, 89,000sqft of commercial and leisure space, a 1,450 space multi-storey car park and a large public square.



An Award-winning Scheme


Merchant Gate has already received two accolades in the Design Awards (Wakefield Civic Society) and developers English Cities Fund won Large Developer of the Year for the scheme at Premier Guarantee’s Excellence Awards.



Features of MX Curtain Walling


The MX curtain walling suite has all the aesthetic, durability and low maintenance qualities of aluminium, combined with constant 52mm sight lines to create a uniform appearance across a comprehensive range of design options – low to high rise curtain walling, visible grid, ribbon, structural, beaded, faceted, acoustic, and sloped glazing.


This high performing façade solution has all the advantages of one fully integrated system – consistent interfaces, simplified specification, ease of fabrication and installation, cost efficiency and reduced time on site.   All the options in the MX suite have been rigorously tested to BS EN standards for wind resistance, water tightness and air permeability.


For further specification information about the MX system, see 

aluminium glazing for mixed use regeneration project

aluminium glazing for mixed use regeneration project

aluminium glazing for mixed use regeneration project

aluminium glazing for mixed use regeneration project

© Chris Gascoigne