The development, which features VELFAC glazing and doors throughout, was described by RIBA as ‘a positive landmark with the potential to kick-start a new era for the locale’, and won a RIBA National Award in 2016.
Cost effective for public sector projects
As a social housing project, Bruyn’s Court is unusual in its use of high performance building products and its contemporary design – reasons why the VELFAC system was specified, says Jamie Campbell, Associate at Bell Phillips Architects: ‘The slim, composite VELFAC frame ensures uniform sightlines, lets more natural light into the interior, and – as the system is better quality than many comparable products - is cost-effective for public sector projects. We also established an excellent relationship with the VELFAC team, another definite benefit.’
Each Bruyn’s Court apartment features large VELFAC windows and full height patio casement doors opening onto distinctive triangular balconies. Internally, the frames were finished in white to enhance the light interior design and spacious floor plan. Externally, dark grey aluminium framing blends into timber cladding and - says Jamie - ‘disappears’ in bright sunlight, ‘pushing the window ‘back’ into a deep reveal to further emphasise the glass installed across the facades.’
Meeting strict safety and technical criteria
The VELFAC system could also meet strict safety and technical criteria: ‘The specified VELFAC units complied with our strict fire and ventilation strategy, reached Secure by Design standards, and helped the scheme achieve Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, once again making the system cost-effective,’ says Jamie. ‘In terms of energy efficiency, standard double-glazed VELFAC units met our target U-value of 1.4W/m2, also keeping budgets low.’ Performance at this level was particularly important in the fully glazed walkways which link the residential blocks, adds Jamie. ‘We had planned to use a curtain walling system but VELFAC was simply better in terms of technical specification and cost,’ he comments.
Bruyn’s Court represents a ‘new breed’ of social housing, and was built by Thurrock Council as an exemplar project which could show contractors what could be done on a relatively tight budget. RIBA recognised – and applauded - this strategy in its National Awards, describing Bruyn’s Court as ‘a rewarding and enriching place to grow old, and also importantly act as a catalyst for development in the area in the long term’.
Sector: Social housing for the over-55s
Architect: Bell Phillips Architects
Client: Thurrock Council Housing Department