Gypsum fibreboard panels from specialist supplier Fermacell were specified for the new home of one of the most historically significant private collections of fine and decorative arts, for their loading capabilities at least.

Some 4,000m2 of fermacell board was used to dry-line the walls, ceilings, bulkheads and external soffits of the award-winning gallery, the new home of the 5,000-strong Portland Collection, on the historic Welbeck estate in Nottinghamshire.

Designed by Hugh Broughton Architects, better known for the Halley VI relocatable research station in Antarctica, the £5 million gallery, which exhibits a rarely-shown Michelangelo drawing and a pearl earring worn by Charles I at his execution, is located within the historic walls of the so-called Tan Gallop, a former indoor ¼ mile racehorse training arena.

The brief from Welbeck’s charitable Harley Foundation was for a public building with longevity that had to display a finite number of works of art over three exhibition periods, meet the conditions for lending with national museums, and hold its own among the historic buildings already on the estate.

Hugh Broughton designed a brick and glass entrance pavilion with two galleries – a barrel-vaulted Long Gallery appropriate for full-length oil paintings and lit by a rooflight running its full length, complemented by a Treasure Gallery with louvered north lights and varying ceiling heights. These elements are supported by office, service, and loading and packing areas.

Much consideration was given to the colour for the collection’s setting, with the plain white frequently used for modern galleries retained for the preliminary reception spaces and visitor facilities and the display walls given over to mid tones – mid grey to deep red, supplemented inside individual showcases with green and a rich blue.

Its rural location and lack of a gas utility network meant electrically driven plant was required to heat and cool the 880m2 (GIA) building but the use of air-sourced heat pumps and 60kWp photovoltaic array has achieved an A-rated EPC, with the building predicted to emit only 5.04kg of CO2/m2 per annum.

The fermacell gypsum fibreboard panels were installed over five months by teams of up to eight men from The ALD Group for main contractor Caddick Construction onto fermacell steel profiles which allow greater build heights and slimmer walls as well as speedy installation. The panels were then treated with fermacell’s FST (Fine Surface Treatment) to give a skim-type finish.

At up to 100% more dense than standard plasterboard, which gives them their incredible racking strength, the 12.5mm square-edged fermacell panels provide a cost-effective single-layer solution to pattressing, being capable of carrying up to 50kg per cavity fixing and 30kg per screw for dead loads.

This negates the gallery having to plan particularly carefully in advance where items are to be hung and consequently where specific areas need to be pattressed, making the exhibition design scheme ultimately flexible and future-proof, and the wall section thinner than the traditional plasterboard/pattress combination.

ALD Group project manager Karl Angell said: “The project was certainly challenging and highly detailed, with various shadow gap details. These required a high level of thought and technical input. But the Fermacell products were faultless, particularly the FST.”

Greg Penate, project architect, Hugh Broughton Architects, who have specified fermacell for other projects including Maidstone Museum, said: “We specified fermacell for all the gallery spaces and entrance pavilion for its direct tile bonding application in wet areas, higher supporting strength per square metre (supporting large art/casings) and direct external canopy soffit application.”

Lisa Gee, director of The Harley Foundation, said: “The finished building and its displays draw on all our ideas and inspirations. The beautiful attention to detail in all of the finishes harks backs to the Harley Foundation’s commitment to craftsmanship and the mark of the hand.”

The new gallery for The Portland Collection has already won four RIBA East Midland Awards 2016 and a RIBA National Award 2016.

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Dry-lining panels by Fermacell feature throughout the new IGMM complex building in Edinburgh.

Gypsum fibreboard partitioning by specialist building panel manufacturer Fermacell was specified for a redeveloped research facility for a quadruplet of reasons at least, its fire and acoustic properties, robustness and weight bearing capabilities to name just a few.

Some 5,000m2 of 12mm square-edged fermacell was used throughout the University of Edinburgh’s £11 million development of the Institute for Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) at the city’s Western General Hospital.

It was specified by the city’s Oberlanders Architects LLP for the five-storey building which links three existing buildings in the complex – the Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit, the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, and the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre – to form a world-class research facility.

Frequent Fermacell specifiers, Oberlanders’ brief was to repurpose existing laboratories to enable expansion of IGMM research programmes. The project included dry-lab computational research space linked by a spiral stair within a dramatic south-facing, double-height space, dedicated lecture facilities (including a 180-person lecture theatre) and a social hub and café.

The Western General Hospital campus in which the IGMM complex is located is an amalgamation of medical buildings built in the hospital grounds over the past 140 years, beginning with St Cuthbert’s Poorhouse which opened in 1868 and subsequently renamed a “hospital”.

In contemporary contrast, the new IGMM building uses a steel frame allowing large clear spans internally. The main façade is essentially single aspect and has glass curtain walling to maximise natural daylight and create an appealing working environment. Brick is used extensively to provide solid book ends to the curtain walling. A spacious roof terrace with overhanging canopy is provided at top floor level, affording stunning views of the Edinburgh skyline.

There were many landmark stages for the build in a live research/hospital environment with complex existing services to contend with.

Oberlanders senior architect Rob Bunworth said: “Certainly the ability of the contractor to get the build wind- and water-tight against the sometimes harsh Scottish climate was a milestone, allowing the fermacell internal walling systems to progress apace.”

The fermacell panels were installed by specialist sub-contractors ORR Fire Protection and Alexander Gatey for phase one main contractor BAM Construction and construction, refurbishment and maintenance contractor Clark Contracts.

Rob Bunworth added: “The building has been an unqualified success. Key to this is delivering connectivity to the previously separate institutes as well as delivering on the client’s aspirations for bright, well-lit and appealing working environments. The building also delivers on the client briefing requirements by offering many informal study and breakout environments to help foster interdisciplinary crossover and synergy.

“Our previous positive experience with fermacell on several education projects in the UK led us to use the range of partition products again due to its robustness and fire/acoustic properties. An additional benefit is fermacell’s weight bearing capacity without the requirement for additional lining or support, thus providing flexibility in locating shelving, fixtures and equipment internally during the fit-out phase of the project.

“The project uses fermacell partition and independent wall lining systems extensively – all internal walls are fermacell. The large spans of fermacell partition systems are particularly visible to the large 17m-high central atrium linking the reception and foyer to the upper circulation areas.

“The fermacell systems as utilised in the build allowed Oberlanders the flexibility to specify many different variations on partition types dealing with myriad fire and acoustic issues. Its robustness and severe duty rating, in addition to its loadbearing capacity, allowed for flexibility in our design response across the project.”

He emphasised: “The internal wall components have stood up well alongside the other finishes on the project. Fermacell was able to achieve the height, performance criteria (fire and acoustic), surface finish and robustness characteristics to several demanding environments within the project.

“10mm deflection joints required for movement within the fermacell partition system have been specifically set out to provide a coordinated and ultimately pleasing grid pattern within the highly-visible four-storey atrium space located at the heart of the building.”

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Fermacell boards are being installed on the Aberdeen Art Gallery redevelopment project.

Some 14,000m2 of gypsum fibreboard from Fermacell is currently being installed on the £30 million redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery.

The square-edged boards are being used throughout to dry-line the “Inspiring art and music” project – a major redevelopment by Hoskins Architects of the Grade A listed gallery, Cowdray Hall and Memorial Hall complex into a 21st Century venue for art and music.

The 6,000m2 redevelopment will see the transformation of the three buildings through significant investment in their fabric, new exhibition and display galleries, and improved facilities for visitors.

Being installed by specialist sub-contractor DBM Building Contractors for main contractor McLaughlin & Harvey, the fermacell boards will help bring the gallery into the 21st Century as large paintings and objects up to 50kg per cavity fixing and 30kg per screw can be hung from them without recourse to pattressing. This process is time consuming and more expensive in terms of materials and labour. The fermacell boards are also manufactured from recycled materials and are wholly recyclable in themselves, helping towards BREEAM ratings.
The project involves new educational facilities to create opportunities for all to learn more about the arts and the planned sensitive upgrading of Cowdray Hall to create a new performance space. The Memorial Hall will also be carefully treated to reflect both its role as a space for quiet contemplation and as a civic space to honour the sacrifices made on behalf of the community.
Interior plans include the creation of 21 gallery spaces in place of the existing 11,500m2 space in which to showcase international-quality exhibitions and a community gallery in a new wing at the rear of the building. Exterior plans involve removing the pitched roofs and skylights behind the parapets of the main building and adding a new storey of accommodation for temporary galleries and a learning zone.

Hoskins Architects won the national competition to redevelopment and expand the complex which has a significant presence within the city and houses an exceptional collection, particularly of Scottish colourists and contemporary artists. Their proposals include the new copper-clad rooftop extension which acts as a symbol for the gallery’s rejuvenation and creates a striking presence for the gallery within the city.

Designed as a new sculptural element in response to the proportions of the existing frontage, the extension achieves the city council’s ambitions to create a world-class venue for art and music. The extension makes use of the outdoor rooftop terraces by offering spectacular views across Aberdeen.

The space contains a suite of new environmentally-controlled temporary galleries as well as much-needed learning and event spaces, providing bold new interiors that will engage and inspire visitors. These new spaces provide the gallery with the ability to accommodate large international touring exhibitions with their associated education and corporate events.

Aberdeen City Council’s deputy leader Cllr Marie Boulton said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve something really special for Aberdeen and by rejuvenating and improving these much-loved buildings we will create a world-class cultural centre which will celebrate art and music for all.”

The buildings will reopen in 2017.

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A new brochure on its range of flooring systems has been published by Fermacell.

Leading building boards manufacturer Fermacell has launched a comprehensive guide to planning and installing its dry flooring systems.

The 64-page A4 manual details how Fermacell’s dry flooring systems are a practical and cost-effective alternative to conventional wet screed to concrete floors and how their excellent thermal conductivity makes them a very efficient overlay to underfloor heating systems. In addition, an optional wood fibre layer to the gypsum fibreboard base gives it excellent acoustic properties.

The brochure details the advantages of working with fermacell flooring systems (their light weight and dry and fast installation times, to name just a couple) and gives an overview of areas of application such as home, office and shopping areas, and areas where people congregate, as well as the loads to factor in for each.

It also advises on the substrates that fermacell flooring can be installed on (such as solid floors, timber joist floors with structural decks and trapezoidal steel sheet floors) and how they should be prepared. Step-by-step guides illustrate this process as well as how they can also be enhanced with a honeycombed acoustic infill.

Specific advice is given on flooring that is exposed to moisture and humidity, where fermacell’s cement-based Powerpanel H2O can be specified. A step-by-step guide details this particular installation procedure. And a table details guideline values for tolerance levels for completed fermacell floors over coverings such as carpet, cork, ceramic tiles, parquet and laminate.

Six pages are given over to example drawings of construction details for all the different flooring combinations, with another 11 pages advising on building physics and construction performance in areas such as fire protection and sound insulation. Material usage tables and installation times complete the picture.

Fermacell’s new flooring brochure is available to download from

Systems from Fermacell are now available through bimstore.

Systems from Fermacell, manufacturer of the “ultimate building board”, are now available through bimstore.

Downloadable in the Revit format, more than 30 Fermacell systems for walls, floors and ceilings are now available through the UK’s largest BIM portal,, as well as through

The Fermacell BIM components include steel and timber stud partitions, steel and timber wall linings and SFS wall systems as well as dry floor screed and steel frame and timber ceilings.

Fermacell’s BIM models provide 3D digital replicas of the products as well as the critical COBIE data which an architect will need about them to guide them through the whole design and construction process.

The 3D images complement the drawings and details that are the legal documents in the design and construction process when the information model is a basis for tenders and proposals.

Fermacell general manager Gary Carter said: “Fermacell sees BIM as an integral part of the strategy to maximise the construction process from inception through to completed construction.”