Despite being intentionally hidden from sight within earth-sheltered structures, Gloucester Gateway Services continues to draw attention and win awards in the architectural world, with Technal systems forming a key element to their visible face, meeting the design team’s aesthetic aspirations as well as offering good daylight transmission and excellent acoustic properties.

Located between Junctions 12 and 11A on the M5 motorway, the Northbound and Southbound sites were conceived by Birmingham based Glenn Howells Architects, and constructed by The Buckingham Group on behalf of Westmorland Limited. And with AFL Architects filling the role of delivery architects, Elite Aluminium Systems Ltd has fabricated and installed a package of Technal systems encompassing MX Curtain Walling for the main elevation and FXi 65 windows.

To date, Gloucester Gateway has won the RIBA National Award 2016 together with the RIBA South West Award 2016 and the RIBA South West Sustainability Award 2016; as well as the RIBA South West Client of the Year Award.

Principle Architect Glenn Howells has hailed Gloucester Gateway as a “game changer” for the motorway service industry, and described how the buildings embody the ideals of sustainable development.

For the thousands of visitors who arrive each day, their first foretaste of the locally sourced produce on offer within is seen through the tinted glazed façade formed from Technal MX curtain walling. Here, on each building, Elite Aluminium Systems has employed the Technal MX curtain walling to produce an extended glazed wall, with the FXi 65 fenestration system forming multiple windows in back-of-house areas.

Mark Longmore of Elite Aluminium Systems Ltd said: “There was an open specification for this important project and we primarily decided to employ the Technal MX Curtain Wall system because it could accommodate the 36 mm glazing units required to achieve the performance criteria. Due to the proximity to the motorway, the architects wanted to use two leafs of 10 mm heat-soaked toughened glass for acoustic performance – while the glass is also high performance neutral solar control, allowing clear vision whilst providing the required thermal properties.

“The Northbound services were completed first of all and met with the council’s approval, as a result of which the same project team, including ourselves, was awarded the work on the southbound site. There are some differences to the specification, but we again used the Technal curtain wall, and the FXi 65 windows in the service yard. Overall the project went very well.”

A spokesperson for AFL Architects added: “The Technal curtain walling and window systems were chosen for the Gloucester Gateway Services project for a number of reasons. Their aesthetic was a good fit for this unique project and their products’ durability and robustness was also an important factor. The staff at Technal have a very accommodating and helpful approach and it was great to have them as part of the team to deliver this highly acclaimed project.”

Undoubtedly from the elegant Technal framed entrance which greets visitors, right through to the environmentally friendly reed beds which deal with the rainwater run-off from the parking areas, Gloucester Gateway has created a unique approach to providing an essentially utilitarian facility; and done so in a way which appeals to both professionals and the public alike.

Glenn Howells summed up: "This award is a celebration of the vision of the Westmorland family, owners of the services, who have turned the M5 into a community asset rather than a problem bringing pollution, congestion and noise."