Shackerley's facade system makes appearance in prestigious Greenwich development

Billed as a ‘new London’, a ‘blank slate’ and an ‘almost island’ opportunity to create a completely different urban environment, the Greenwich Peninsula masterplan is possibly the most ambitious regeneration project the UK has ever seen.



elivering 15,720 new homes across seven neighbourhoods, each with their own distinct personality and design focus, the project from London-based entrepreneurial urban developer, Knight Dragon, emphasises community, lifestyle and the waterside location.

The ‘Lower Riverside’ neighbourhood of the Greenwich Peninsula has been designed as a laid-back, tranquil neighbourhood. Amongst the properties constructed as part of Lower Riverside is ‘The Lighterman’, a 223-unit apartment building with interiors designed by the world-renowned Conran + Partners and a three-storey glazed cube on the roof that will glow at night.

The building has been designed by CJCT architects and facade engineer, Buro Happold, was involved in the decision-making to ensure that the scheme’s cladding specification meets the demands of the design brief, both now and in the future. Explains Rob Foster from CJCT: “The final design for The Lighterman is quite different from the original planning consent because Knight Dragon was keen to step beyond the homogenous residential tower to create distinct communities at Greenwich Peninsula that are connected by form and materiality.

“The cladding strategy for The Lighterman had to deliver those goals by creating a prestige finish at eye-level that will stand the test of time and complement the aesthetic and colour palette of the Lower Riverside community. Buro Happold’s comparative study of various facade materials confirmed that Shackerley’s SureClad ceramic granite system would achieve the required finish and maintain its appearance and durability over time.”

High-end aesthetics

Boasting panoramic views across the Thames and arranged around a courtyard garden, The Lighterman has a striking design with a projecting frame, which is enveloped with white speckled facade cladding. This creates a contrast of both colour and texture with the recessed curtain walling and rainscreen providing a three-dimensional aesthetic to the facade that adds interest to the building and changes the effect of its appearance depending on proximity and perspective.

Rob continues: “The Lighterman tower has a tripartite composition defined by the elegant white textured frame that provides shadow and depth to the facades. A considered pattern of full-height windows and metallic cladding that is held within the elegant frame provides a richness of texture and warm tones.”

Shackerley’s SureClad ceramic granite was selected to complement the colour palette for the Lower Riverside community, creating synergy with the surrounding new-build developments. The natural finish of the material also gives it texture and sheen, creating subtle variations in the building’s appearance depending on the level of natural sunlight, the time or day and reflections from the water.

Long-term performance

The facade system’s visual interplay with its waterside location was just one of the considerations for the specification. The Buro Happold study of suitable ventilated cladding systems and materials included consideration of the facade’s service life, its durability and its ability to maintain its high-end aesthetic and pale colour over time.

Rob comments: “The waterfront location for The Lighterman makes it a very desirable residential scheme and all the units were sold before the building was complete.

“However, the urban riverside site also presents challenges in choosing materials that can withstand the rigours of a polluted atmosphere, thanks to the combination of poor London air quality with the saline environment of the Thames when it reaches as far east as Greenwich. It was clear from the comparative tests that the SureClad ceramic granite facade system from Shackerley was by far the most robust to resist weathering and contaminants over time and maintain both its integrity and appearance.”

Robust system

Comparatively lightweight and robust with none of the natural fissures and imperfections associated with quarried stone, Shackerley’s ceramic granite is ideally suited to residential towers like The Lighterman. An impermeable material, ceramic granite will not fade or degrade over time and will resist algae growth and graffiti. The material provides exceptional durability in all climatic extremes, offering excellent freeze/thaw resistance. It is also non-combustible, meeting Class 0 standards.

The Queen’s Award-winning SureClad Access system used to install the large-format ceramic granite enables rapid and non-sequential installation of facade panels, allowing cladding works to be scheduled around other site-based activities during the critical final stages of the build.

Shackerley pre-fabricated all the 1190 x 1990 SureClad panels for the project at the company’s ISO 9001 quality-assured production facility in Lancashire, along with a number of specially-designed bracketed sections to simplify cladding of the beam details. All installation-ready panels were delivered to site on a just-in-time basis to avoid storage requirements on the constricted site.

First impressions

Construction of The Lighterman is now complete with the interior fit-out currently in its final stages. From within the building, the views of the city are the stars of the show, with urban panoramas and identifiable landmarks in every direction. On the ground, the quality and contrast of the facade combine with the luxury of the double-height atrium lobby to create a residential building with huge impact and timeless elegance.

Rob concludes: “With a prestigious residential development like The Lighterman, first impressions count. That’s why it was so important to use high-quality cladding materials on the lower storeys of the building, creating an impressive approach to the building for years to come.”

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