Ceiling systems by leading UK manufacturer Zentia were specified for a new £7.7 million extension to the UK and Ireland headquarters of world-leading daylight solutions provider VELUX for a trio of reasons at least.
The project was the first time Zentia's Ultima+ Finesse mineral tiles have been installed in Scotland where VELUX UK and Ireland's headquarters have been located on a 1.6-hectare site in Glenrothes, Fife, for 35 years. Back then it had 50 employees there. Now it has 172. The Finesse tiles were complemented by Ultima+ OP Microlook tiles, also in 600mm x 600mm format.
They were selected by regular Zentia specifiers Sinclair Watt Architects as they met the Class 1, aesthetic, fire and acoustic performance required for the 37,673ft2 two-storey building which features an engineered timber and steel structural frame.
Designed to complement the gently sloping site, the extension features full-height glazing and stone and timber cladding and showcases the latest VELUX technology. It joins the existing building via a new staff entrance, which features a green roof, aluminium guttering and timber rainscreen cladding.
Some 1,1,00m2 of the Zentia Ultima+ OP Microlook tiles were used in the ground floor offices and storerooms, while 100m2 of the Finesse tiles were used in the restaurant, kitchen and toilets. The Ultima+ range features class-leading light reflectance of 87% and Euroclass A2-s1, d0 fire classification, the OP Microlook variant with Class A sound absorption and Finesse a fully concealed, fully painted edge detail.
Sinclair Watt were provided with a detailed brief to provide accommodation for a new main entrance and reception area, product display hall, meeting room suite, additional office space and customer service telephone hall and ancillary accommodation. By necessity these were required to be large spaces to accommodate large numbers of employees and visitors.
The building had to achieve seven basic goals - to allow VELUX to be a good neighbour, to be simple and beautiful, to make arrival a good experience, to be a model of balanced daylight, natural ventilation, good indoor comfort and healthy materials, to apply a well-defined, high-quality structural concept, to obtain good sustainable standards with a minimum use of energy, to be visible and logical, and to create value and express the VELUX values.
Sinclair Watt met this by incorporating a regular and prominent engineered timber and steel structural frame that provided a design with a clear distinction between the supporting structure of the building and the facades and roof. This was both to create clarity and logic in the design and to make it possible to replace or update the not-so-permanent parts of the building. The roof form is curved to reduce the overall scale of the building.
The internal design incorporates a central street and atrium that acts as a meeting place as well as a general circulation area and allows the best use of natural sunlight and natural ventilation throughout the building. The building provides good indoor comfort and utilises healthy materials.
The three key areas - energy efficiency, healthy indoor environment and renewable energy - constitute the basis of the new building. A fabric-first approach for the building was adopted with high insulation levels and low air permeability rates to reduce overall heat loss from the building. This combined with a natural ventilation and daylighting strategy, and the use of LED lighting and air source heat pumps as the main heating source, resulted in a highly energy efficient and sustainable building.
Architect Iain Mitchell said: "We specified the Zentia systems as they have a good product range, good suspension systems, with good product information and good technical backup. They met all the aesthetic, fire and acoustic performances.
"Zentia shadow and transition trims were used so the Zentia ceilings tie in well with adjacent plasterboard walls and ceilings. The client is very happy with the ceiling installation and building as a whole."
The ceiling installation was completed for main contractor ISG by specialist sub-contractor PFP who had a team of up to six operatives on site for seven months prior to the first Covid lockdown. It was the first time they had installed the Ultima+ Finesse tile from Zentia, who have evolved from Armstrong Ceiling Solutions.
Commercial director Colin Burns said: "We had some meetings with Zentia to talk through the detailing of the Finesse element and put it to the guys on site but apart from that, and some coordinating with services, it was very straightforward. It looks good as it always does and gives a nice bright finish. It was interesting to be the first installer of Finesse in Scotland."
Scott Leeder, VELUX's Market Director - Great Britain and Ireland, said: "The new building provides our existing employees with a much-improved working environment and accommodates any increase in headcount in the future."
Councillor Altany Craik, convener of Fife Council's economy, tourism and strategic planning committee, added: "This new building looks very impressive."