Contemporary lightweight stone finish for £2m+ arts building

Aliva UK has honed a distinctive limestone facade that gives a classic, contemporary finish to Cavendish House, a £2.2m refurbishment project for Norwich University of the Arts.

Hudson Architects specified lightweight stone cladding with a monolithic look for the five storey building, home to an art gallery and start-up space for creative businesses.  The façade had to harmonise with nearby buildings, particularly the medieval Grade I listed St Andrew’s Church opposite. An unpolished finish was required to minimise reflection of sunlight and satisfy local planning regulations.

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Aliva, the UK leader in architectural finishes, supplied Aliva Air in grey limestone.  The contractor was Pentaco. The specialist installation contractor, Glass Aftercare, worked diligently to address on-site construction requirements.

Matt Griggs of Hudson Architects said: “The façade needed to be a distinctive and contemporary focal point for the building, while enhancing its street presence.

“We needed a material that was natural, with variation in the surface appearance. The Aliva Air façade ties together the new mezzanine extension with the rest of the east elevation below, giving the appearance of a solid object inserted into the existing building.”

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Aliva completed the façade project with panels of various sizes – some over two metres long. The honed finish included bonded corners and soffit pieces.

James Ormerod, Managing Director of Aliva UK said: “Aliva Air is our solution for architects who wish to use stone, glass or ceramic cladding in combination with lightweight, modern construction methods.  Architects constantly strive to minimise the eco-footprint of new buildings, and Aliva Air stone meets the brief here too. Our ultra-thin panels allow greater yield of the quarried slabs.”

Aliva Air panels are formed from a layer of stone, ceramic, glass or GRC (approx. 10mm) that is cut and then bonded to a high-performance composite core panel with a stainless steel backing, using a patented and BBA accredited production system.

As well as being ultra-lightweight, the panels can be manufactured in larger formats than traditional cladding – up to 4.5m by 1.5m.