Sheffield Hallam University: Bringing art to the heart of the campus

Rockpanel façades have formed the stunning canvas for a specially commissioned, three storey carving on the new ‘Heart of the Campus’ building at Sheffield Hallam University. The facility offers over 7,400m2 of teaching, study and social space, and is central to the University’s goal of providing the highest quality facilities and teaching space for its 35,000 students. 

CNC routing on façade panels

The artwork by Christopher Tipping is conveyed through dynamic mark making and linear drawing, routed into the Rockpanel surface. It is inspired by the rich history of cutlery & silverware manufacture in the city.

The façade boards, specified in Umbra Grey and Stone Grey, were routed by specialist firm The Cutting Room, exposing the compressed stone wool base material to a depth of 2mm. The base material has now weathered from a pale yellow-green to a rich dark brown, beautifully highlighting this stylish artwork.

Rockpanel Colours for rainscreen cladding

The layered images are a recurring theme, appearing in the glazing as well as the façade. The art was incorporated within the west elevation of the design from the initial planning stage and HLM Architects required a rainscreen façade which would support and enhance this, whilst still providing a highly durable finish. This led to the specification of Rockpanel Colours as Michael Spencer and Gemma Wilson from HLM explained: 

“This was the first time we had worked with Rockpanel facade cladding at our Sheffield office and we found the Rockpanel boards delivered both the high-quality finish and adaptability that we required. The product doesn’t expand or contract with atmospheric conditions and is unaffected by moisture, so it needed no special treatment even though the base board was made visible when routing the design. By specifying it with secret-fix system we were able to maintain the crisp and clean façade needed for the routed artwork.” 

Sustainable façade materials

All Rockpanel facades are manufactured from highly sustainable basalt rock, creating boards which are both light-weight and extremely robust, so the ‘Heart of the Campus’ design will continue to delight visitors for years to come, thanks to the durability and dimensional stability of the chosen product. 

Easy to handle façade panels

Liam Hughes, Director of Stone Systems, was also happy with the façade boards: “We found the Rockpanel façades very easy to work with. Because they’re so light, handling and lifting wasn’t an issue and this, combined with the flexibility of the adhesive system, meant that we were able to complete the installation programme ahead of schedule, helping to keep costs down. The strength of the panels also meant that they adapted easily to changes in the required tolerances on site.”