Designed by architects The Harris Partnership and built by Conlon Construction, the 2,060sqft aerofoil-shaped ‘treehouse’ was commissioned by the Bayford Group at the former ancestral home of aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn, who inspired its aeronautical theme and its name, the Blackburn Wing.Accommodating up to 140 people, the stunning timber, copper and glass events centre is the centrepiece of a £6m multi-phase restoration project across the nineteenth century listed estate near Wetherby.It is one of only two structures ever to have been built in an area of ancient woodland and appears to float among the trees.
The project has now won two RIBA (Yorkshire) awards, an RICS award – Yorkshire Tourism and Leisure Project of the Year, and was highly commended in the Project of the Year category at the Constructing Excellence awards.
Fabricated and installed by AW Glazing, Technal’s GEODE-MX SG structural glazing was used for this unique structure to provide stunning views of the surrounding woodland and to maintain a feeling of openness and nature, both inside and out. The façade system carries large 3m high by 1.5m wide spans of high performance toughened glass.
The GEODE-MX SG curtain walling option has a specially-designed ‘toggle’ which removes the need for silicone bonding to hold the glazed units in place, making it faster and simpler to install whilst giving a frameless appearance. On this project, the curtain walling extends along one side of the 40m long ‘wing’ and follows the curved contours at each end of the building. It is finished in a low maintenance black polyester powder coating.
Commenting on the curtain walling specification Oliver Clark, Project Architect at The Harris Partnership, said, “We are incredibly proud of this scheme and are very happy with Technal’s curtain walling. It was absolutely paramount that the glazing to the ‘wing’ of the building provided uninterrupted views across the woodland and a clean, crisp façade with a glass-to-glass appearance that correlated with the copper cladding. This has been perfectly achieved with the GEODE-MX system.”
The judges at the RIBA awards said, "This building is a tour de force, a piece of bravado, worthy of its inspiration, its location and the passion of its client. Whilst equally bold in both its conception and final form, its aptness to its siting within both a historic environment and among precious trees is admirably – even surprisingly – sympathetic."
The building’s structure is supported by galvanised steel legs which are stabilised with steel cross-bracing to replicate the original appearance of a biplane wing. There are two wooden ‘runways’ which link the wing to the estate grounds leading to the main building. The aeronautical design theme is referenced internally with a bespoke bar created from a Boeing 747 engine intake cowling; tables have been fabricated in the shape of aeroplane wings, and a frame taken from the wing structure of a Hawker Siddeley DC-9.
Technal’s GEODE-MX curtain walling can be used to create a variety of architectural compositions from a single grid system – low to high rise façades, horizontal or vertical emphasis, and ribbon, structural, faceted, beaded and sloped glazing. GEODE-MX Acoustic for additional noise protection and GEODE-MX62 for larger glass sizes are among the extensive range of curtain walling options.