ROCKWOOL® and Rockpanel® have joined forces in developing a high performance, fire resilient cladding project which has transformed three high-rise residential towers for Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.
The Crofts in Smethwick consists of 270 homes within Ashcroft, Birchcroft and Elmcroft houses.
This development is located on a major arterial route into the city of Birmingham within a district that ranked 12th out of 326 in terms of deprivation in a 2010 study of the country. The three tower blocks, originally constructed in the 1960s, were in universally poor condition, showing signs of major wear and tear to the building fabric, windows, roofing and balconies. In the absence of any wall insulation, they were also proving very difficult to heat and especially challenging to keep warm for those tenants living in fuel poverty.
Refurbishment at The Crofts also offered an opportunity for Sandwell Council to rejuvenate not just these high-rise homes but also the wider area as they sought to bring a renewed sense of pride in their surroundings to residents and the local community.
This two year, £11 million project for contractor, Keepmoat Regeneration, has involved a dramatic, top-to-bottom renovation of each tower at The Crofts.
Substantial improvements have included flat-to-pitched roof conversions with solar panel installations, new windows and striking new balcony enclosures, redecorated communal areas, asbestos removal and the installation of a highly efficient, aesthetically attractive and non-combustible insulated cladding solution supplied by sister brands, ROCKWOOL® and Rockpanel.
ROCKWOOL’s RAINSCREEN DUO SLAB® is the non-combustible dual density insulation board fitted at The Crofts. It offers a robust outer surface and a resilient inner face designed specifically for application to this type of high rise development. Made from stone wool, RAINSCREEN DUO SLAB® is A1 fire rated for optimum fire resilience. It also has the benefit of high resistance to wind and rain during construction, which, together with the minimal number of fixings required, makes installation quicker and easier for contractors. At The Crofts, the product has been tightly butt jointed, knitting together to deliver effective thermal insulation at 0.035 W/mK at the same time as it minimises any heat loss that could arise from gaps between insulation boards.
For the exterior cladding the extra fire safe façade board Rockpanel FS-Xtra has been used to provide the attractive aesthetic finish on the project. Applied on top of an aluminium supporting structure and fixed with blind rivets, these Rockpanel ‘FS-Xtra’ boards, in combination with ROCKWOOL’s RAINSCREEN DUO SLAB®, meet the requirements for European fire classA2-s1,d0. The boards also weigh very little compared to other board materials and can be easily worked with on site, with no special tools required. This saves installation time and costs. Installed on this project by Astley Facades, Rockpanel FS-Xtra boards are available in a wide range of different finishes and colours. A mixture of vibrant Rockpanel Colours, such as RAL 3009 and 5011, has been supplied at The Crofts.
“We’re extremely proud of the work we have been able to do here at The Crofts,” said a spokesperson from Sandwell Council. “These improvements have made a massive impact on both the internal and external appearance of the blocks, as well as the local skyline. And, the much improved insulation offered by the eye-catching cladding will help reduce fuel bills for tenants.”
A huge uplift in energy performance will result from these improvements. In fact, Sandwell Council estimates that, in total, approximately 9,600 tonnes of carbon will be saved every year.
The Crofts has picked up two awards for corporate social responsibility, including a Bronze in the 2015 International Corporate Social Responsibility Awards and a first prize in the Delivering Social Value category at the 2016 National Federation of Builders Awards.
Ultimately, the project has made a significant impact in the local community. These three tower blocks are not merely visibly transformed, they are more energy efficient residences and they are also beacons of hope for tenants and the community of Smethwick.