Pilkington Activ™ Is Academic!

Date: 12 February 2009
Source: Pilkington
A highly unusual window replacement scheme has taken place at Leicester University. Pilkington Activ™ Blue glass has helped transform the Attenborough Tower, a 19-storey tower block built in the early 1970s on the main campus.

Named after the father of Richard and David Attenborough, the tower is the tallest building in Leicester and is home to the University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Distinctive in its stature, the University wanted to retain the overall appearance of the tower block and replicate the idiosyncratic windows using the most technologically advanced glazing systems.  

Reaching a height of 52 metres, the tower is constructed with a concrete frame, cast in-situ, and clad with pre-cast concrete panels. The building makes use of slanted aluminium-framed windows that protrude outwards at the bottom to aid draught-free ventilation throughout the tower all year round. The University’s hilltop location makes the top floor of the tower one of the best vantage points in the city, creating the perfect, stimulating environment for learning - an environment that will certainly reap the benefits of having self-cleaning glass installed.  In high winds, the top of the tower can be felt to sway significantly which always caused problems when it came to cleaning and maintaining the building. 

According to Tony Beall of Queniborough Aluminium Services, who manufactured and installed the new windows, the shape of the units made for a challenging task.  “These are very unusual windows with a large front vision panel which slopes back onto the building leaving two triangle opening light returns either side,” he explains.  “We supplied and installed over 400 of these as well as full height curtain walling to the landing, stairs and toilets.  For all of these, we used argon filled insulated glass units manufactured with Pilkington Activ™ Blue glass for the external pane. One of the primary requirements in the specification was the ability of the glass to clean itself.  Pilkington Activ™, the world’s first self-cleaning glass proved to be the obvious solution for the project."

The secret of Pilkington Activ™ is its special coating, which works in two stages.  Firstly, the coating reacts with ultra-violet (UV) rays from natural daylight to break down organic dirt.  The second part of the process commences when water hits the glass.  Rainwater runs down the glass to wash loosened dirt (both organic and inorganic) away.  Compared with conventional glass, the water dries very quickly reducing unsightly streaks or marks. In order to help keep the building cooler, Pilkington Activ™ Blue was specified.  An attractive blue tinted glass that combines self-cleaning properties with solar control helping to maintain a comfortable environment all year round.

The refurbishment of the campus building is now completed and the installation of the glass will ensure that the structure has a brand new, contemporary look and a fresh aesthetic appeal, as well as contributing to temperature control and a significant reduction in maintenance costs accrued through costly cleaning programmes!

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