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Home Latest News 2016 VS-1 curtain walling part of cutting edge vision for Hiscox’s York offices

VS-1 curtain walling part of cutting edge vision for Hiscox’s York offices

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A new structural glazing system from GLASSOLUTIONS has been specified for Hiscox’s new landmark underwriting and customer experience centre in York, part of the insurance company’s £19 million investment to create its largest office outside London.

The VS-1 mullion-only system from GLASSOLUTIONS eliminates the need for horizontal framing members, enabling Make Architects to achieve the clean viewing lines on the curved atrium screen which forms a key feature of the new building.

Make Architects’ brief was to design a bespoke office which reflects the character of the Hiscox business and delivers high-quality contemporary design within York’s rich architectural heritage.  Located adjacent to the Grade II* listed early-17th Century Black Swan public house, The Hiscox Building will establish a new focal point for the Hungate area of the city.

The spectacular four-storey building will house up to 500 employees in a dynamic working environment with open, flexible floor space.  The light airy interior effect is created by the extensive use of the VS-1 curtain walling.  This combines with a cantilevered concrete frame and undulating woven brickwork façade to provide a workspace which fosters creativity and collaboration.

Work on site began in 2014.  UK-based GLASSOLUTIONS, part of the international Saint-Gobain Group, supplied and installed the curtain walling structure for main contractor BAM Construction as part of a £1.8 million contract.

VS-1, which has also been used successfullyon the Sky Believe in Better building in London, is a new type of curtain wall – a mullion only system where the glass is held away from the mullion so the glass wall visually ‘floats’. In this project, the mullions are fixed back directly to primary structural columns.

VS-1’s highly engineered simplicity delivers remarkable aesthetics for architects, developers and building owners.  It is the only curtain wall system where the floating glass façade is held away from the mullion without the use of obtrusive bolt fixings or transoms.  Its relative simplicity reduces risk of component failure, improves constructability and reduces costs of programme delays in both construction and post-construction phases.

The installation at The Hiscox Building in York features Wicona curtain walling to the punch hole windows and louvres, roof terrace curtain wall, a bespoke structurally bonded rooflight and GLASSOLUTIONS’ patented VS-1 glazing system to form the main atria screen and terrace parapet.

The VS-1 system façade is articulated with both convex and concave curved insulated units, the largest of which is 2.0m wide x 4.2m high.  The argon filled laminated heat strengthened units have high performance coatings to limit solar gain, achieving g-values as low as 0.34. To meet internal thermal comfort targets, glass units with centre pane u-values of 1.1 W/m2K have been used.  Combined with the thermally efficient frames, this creates screens with weighted average U-values of 1.3 W/m2K. 

Says Make Architects’ Jason Parker, partner and the project lead architect: “The building has been designed to complement York's rich architectural heritage whilst providing a new home for Hiscox in the heart of the city.  It has been a fantastic collaboration between York, Hiscox, the designers and contractors – each contributing to a building which conveys a sense of joy from both inside and out. The incorporation of VS-1 into the design creates a light and airy space and reinforces the openness and the friendly face of Hiscox.”

Steve Langan, Managing Director, Hiscox UK and Europe, said: “The brief we gave the architects was to create something that represents a progressive addition to the long history of York – something that taps into the history of the Hungate site and is sympathetic to the surrounding listed buildings, while using cutting-edge architectural, design and working practices.  I want it to be a centre that drives innovation and a place that both Hiscox and York can be extremely proud of for many years to come.”