INCA Case Study: Gainsborough Studios, London


Gainsborough Studios, London

​Project Type: Refurbishment

Building Type: Mixed Use, High Rise

Architect: N/A

System Designer: Soltherm Ltd

Installer: Guildmore Ltd

System & Finish: Soltherm Ultimate Steel A1

U-value Achieved: 0.24 W/(m²K)

Levelling Up on Fire and Substrate

Gainsborough Studios was originally the site of an infamous production studio. Producing many classic Hitchcock movies amongst many other post-war productions.

In 2002, the site was cleared and the Gainsborough studios residences were built. Designed by Munkenbeck and Marshall, 280 residential units were constructed on the edge of the grand union canal.

During a 2019 post-Grenfell fire evaluation, surveyors, Messrs FRC determined that of the multitude of cladding systems used in this complex combination façade, the timber, ACM and render areas were potentially combustible, could propagate fire and were consequently non-compliant. PIR and EPS insulants were used across the site with cavity barriers installed infrequently and randomly. The site varied between 7 storeys and 11 storeys hence all above 18m.

To ensure the building was not only immediately compliant but also futureproof to further shoring up of fire regulations, steered by the nominated contractor and INCA member Guildmore Limited, Southern Housing Group specified the best-in-class Soltherm Ultimate A1 HD Mineral system. Using this specification and the comprehensive support of the Soltherm team, Southern Housing Group successfully applied for Building Safety Fund support to install the fire remediation measures.

Soltherm Ultimate A1 HD Mineral system achieves the top-rated fire classification yet can be directly fixed to lightweight steel. The original construction being concrete frame with SFS infill, lent itself perfectly to the Ultimate Steel system range.

Soltherm Ultimate A1 HD Mineral is the only A1 “direct to steel” ETICS system. Tested in accordance with both BS 8414 and BS EN 13501, the system achieves its unique rating by following linear A1 principles through the system build-up. Utilising Soltherm’s R&D laboratory and relationships with Berger Paints, allowed for the development of key coatings to support the make-up of the system, yet providing it with colourful, hydrophobic and durable finishes, distinctive within the industry.

The project was fraught with challenges for both the system and installer.

Firstly, the blocks were fully occupied and in use during this challenging multi-façade strip and re-clad. Phasing of the works to ensure safety, weather protection and tenant comfort was the first consideration. Guildmore and Soltherm must therefore ensure that the strip and re-clad could be delivered in waves and blocks without compromising the integrity of the finished Ultimate A1 HD Mineral system. System interfaces were carefully designed to ensure a homogenous finish that would exceed the 60-year system design life.

Secondly, when exposed, the substrates were very uneven. Extensive pre-work was required to level up the substrate to receive the Ultimate A1 system. Works included:

1. Multiple substrate types, requiring intricate movement detailing.
2. Various different insulation types and fixing lengths

Thirdly, The system is approved to be used over both steel-framed construction and concrete. This means the system is still 100% compliant when installed over the concrete stanchions and slabs.

Overall, the Gainsborough Studios project was about regulatory compliance and tenant safety. Maintaining the iconic Stephen Marshall design but delivering A1 protection were the primary objectives and Soltherm A1 in partnership with Guildmore and Southern Housing Group, delivered on both counts with minimum disruption and cost to the residents.

Maintaining the iconic Stephen Marshall design but delivering A1 protection were the primary objectives and Soltherm A1 in partnership with Guildmore and Southern Housing Group.


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