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ROCKPANEL brings extra dimension to 'Think Tank' innovation centre

Winner of the new RIBA Environmental Initiative Award 2009 and the LABC Chair’s Award

The Think Tank innovation centre in Lincoln, designed by Architects Marks Barfield, draws on the city’s strong historical associations. Lincoln was where the first tanks were built in the First World War, and most famously, a road very near to the building was used as a testing ground for the Little Willie and Whippet tanks. Through these associations the architect has created a tank-inspired innovation centre, the ‘Think Tank’.

Design to express ideas

On first viewing Think Tank is certainly dressed for battle, its colours and angles clearly bring to mind the army tank. The facade’s ‘rivets’ have been made into an architectural feature and the strong logo, and name of the building itself, all add to this initial impression.

But using ROCKPANEL Chameleon, an extra dimension is brought to the building. With its crystal top layer which refracts light, and seems to magically change colour in changing light and from different angles, ROCKPANEL Chameleon is the most distinctive expression of the ideas behind the building. It embodies the building’s purpose: innovation. When viewed from one angle, the facade panels are predominantly a military-style grey and green, straight on they give the impression of bronze, and directly reflecting the sun they have a dazzling orange glow.

A cost effective solution

It is the first time ROCKPANEL Chameleon has been used in the UK for a renovation project. The facade was sourced by the project’s contractor as a cost effective alternative to fibre cement boards, and has been used alongside timber and glazing.

It was whilst considering the fixings for the ROCKPANEL facade, and deciding on a highly visible manifestation of them in rivet-style, that the tank analogy crystallized for Marks Barfield. Simultaneously its client, Lincoln City Council, sprang on the name Think Tank.

Architect Julia Barfield likes to draw her creative approach from historical events. “The tank reference is not meant to be visible to every visitor, but I like buildings that echo their surroundings,” she says. We were able to express that perfectly with ROCKPANEL Chameleon boards.

Designed for innovation

Innovative technology plays an important part in the local economy. Lincoln’s largest employer, the Siemens Group, manufactures turbines for the oil and gas industry. And, with the £100m University of Lincoln campus developed over the last 10 years, there are potentially a huge number of new ideas to be captured.

Think Tank offers 9 workshops, 23 offices, conference rooms, communal kitchens, a roof terrace, courtyard and garden area, and its design promotes innovation and inspiration from the impression it creates and the informal networking opportunities it encourages.

Sustainable, workable and robust

Marks Barfield expects the building to achieve BREEAM Excellent. From its 20 100m-deep boreholes, to its highly insulated envelope and seeded roof, the building most definitely has a strong emphasis on sustainability. And by using ROCKPANEL, manufactured from the sustainable natural rock, basalt, and 100% recyclable, the green credentials of the building are assured.


Wern Tarw
Pencoed Bridgend
CF35 6NY
Tel.: +44 (1656) 863 210
Fax: +44 (1656) 863 611
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