The University of Bedfordshire’s new four-storey science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) building in Luton is using 80 Forma decorative casings from Encasement to conceal building services and utilities while also enhancing its interior design.
Designed by MCW Architects and constructed by R.G. Carter, the £40 million building completes the university’s five-year estates development strategy, which brings the total investment to around £180 million.
The new STEM building at the Park Campus provides more than 6,000 sq.mtrs of teaching space, which includes flexible computing laboratories, specialist containment labs and a clean room facility, as well as automotive engineering, cyber-security and robotics workshops.
As the building uses a series of 525mm square concrete columns on each level for structural support, they are also used for surface mounting building services, including data cabling, power and utilities pipework
Rather than fully encase each column, Encasement’s 3mm thick aluminium Forma casings are only installed to the faces where the building services are located, leaving the concrete visible on the other sides.
Whilst most casings are installed on just a single side, 23 of the columns have casings on two opposite faces, which leaves just the central portion of the concrete between the casings exposed.
To meet the different specifications, Encasement manufactured and installed three different sizes of casing and two alternative heights of 3,150mm and 2,800mm, together with decorative brushed aluminium skirting collars and dedicated fixing brackets.
Although the Forma casings are manufactured to meet a number of different requirements and locations, they are all coated with the same RAL 9006 ’White Aluminium’ PPC finish to integrate with the interior design colour scheme of the labs.
Encasement’s Managing Director, Martin Taylor, commented: “Our Forma casings are regularly chosen for education sector projects as they can be manufactured to meet most profiles, sizes and specifications, as well as being ideal for high traffic and high use areas, as demonstrated within this new STEM building. In addition, they can be finished in any RAL paint colour, anodised or manufactured from textured materials, which gives designers an immense palette to choose from when considering interior or exterior designs.”