University of St Andrews, Scotland

The VELFAC composite system has been installed in two award-winning student halls built for the University of St Andrews. Designed by HLM Architects, Powell and Whitehorn Halls provide comfortable and stylish accommodation for over 380 undergraduates and postgraduates, with VELFAC windows providing excellent thermal insulation and maximum natural light. VELFAC units are also integral to innovative architectural façade features, including dramatic glazed screens and angled window pods.

VELFAC windows at University of St Andrews, Scotland
Photo: David Barbour

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Powell and Whitehorn Halls reflect both Scottish baronial architecture and the influence of nearby iconic modern buildings. The Halls create a series of communal spaces designed to encourage communication between students and academics, including collegiate-style quads and vibrant double-height internal spaces.

‘World class’ student accommodation

VELFAC composite windows, combining dark grey external aluminium frames with clear lacquered internal timber, both enhance the Hall’s architectural design and meet the needs of its users, says architect Adam McAvoy: ‘The quality of VELFAC glazing supported the University’s aim to build ‘world class’ student accommodation. For example, the composite frame delivers a sleek external aesthetic across a range of different facades and design elements including buff masonry, grey brickwork and light concrete facades. The windows are also installed in angled pods, clad in bronze-coloured zinc which acknowledge the architecture of nearby A-Listed Melville Hall, designed by James Stirling.’

Large, full height windows in every room

Every study bedroom features a large, full height VELFAC window comprising a fixed and opening light, window restrictor and trickle vent installed within the timber frame. ‘Pale wood provides a more ‘domestic’ finish,’ says Adam, ‘and the slim frame results in a high glass to frame ratio which increases daylight within the study rooms, contributing positively to the well-being of the residents. Windows are also a major component of student accommodation, and as standard VELFAC double glazing could meet target U-values of 1.4-1.5W/m2K, this helped reduce build costs.’ Technical support was an additional benefit: ‘VELFAC provided all the drawings with in-house experts providing additional technical support, which was a great help during the design phase.’

Award winning design

Since their completion in 2018 the Halls have won a number of architectural awards including the 2019 Scottish Design Award and the Scottish Property Awards Student Development of the Year, for Whitehorn Hall, with both Halls also shortlisted for a 2019 AJ Award and a 2020 RICS Social Impact Award.



Sector: Student accommodation

Architect: HLM Architects

Contractor: St Robert McAlpine

Specified for:

  • Quality finish
  • Versatile composite frame
  • Low energy performance
  • Expert technical support