Handling 24.3 million passengers in 2016 alone, Stansted Airport serves more than 170 destinations. Located just 30 minutes from London by train, the airport has become a popular departure point for both tourist and business travellers, leading to high demand for quality hotel accommodation close to the terminal that combines comfortable guest rooms, with stylish bars and restaurants and flexible meeting and conferencing facilities.
The latest addition to this hospitality landscape is the new 357 room Hampton by Hilton hotel, located just a six minute shuttle bus ride from the airport’s terminal building. Designed by the London office of Leach Rhodes Walker Architects (LRW), the £27 million scheme leverages the architect’s international experience in hotel design and references the verticality of the terminal building, while providing a stylish and distinctly contemporary aesthetic.
The use of Shackerley’s SureClad® ceramic granite ventilated cladding system across all the building’s façades has been pivotal to the success of this vision, which both makes a design statement and provides a subtle, unobtrusive addition to the Stansted landscape.
“The building was inspired by the terminal building,” explains the Director of the London office and lead architect, Alessio Venturi from LRW, “but, although we wanted to create a synergy of form, we also needed to differentiate the hospitality nature of the hotel building in contrast to the commercial functionality of the surrounding airport buildings.
“The broad choice of façade colourways offered by Shackerley helped us to achieve that aesthetic goal while SureClad® ceramic granite’s inherent impermeability and resistance to the elements also gave us the robust finish we needed to withstand an airport environment and retain a quality appearance over time.”
Achieving an Italian Aesthetic
The largest Hampton by Hilton hotel in the UK, the new Stansted scheme is a ‘C’ shaped building. It has been designed to mirror the terminal building in verticality and modularity and its height has also been restricted to match that of the terminal building and comply with planning requirements.
The recessed central section of the hotel is glazed at ground floor level to provide an active frontage that houses both the hotel’s reception and its bar and restaurant area, with a single front desk and bar providing connectivity through the space. The glazed frontage not only provides a contrast with the ceramic granite façade but also enables guests to look out as they relax and dine and gives onlookers a view of the high specification interior.
Shackerley’s SureClad® ceramic granite ventilated façade system has been specified in a variegated grey/white colourway with a natural finish, which is sympathetic to local surroundings. The distinctive panel was chosen to give the façade an appearance that is subtle, while providing a timeless elegance.
Explains Alessio Venturi: “The building’s design has been inspired by both its context as part of the wider airport estate and by my own heritage in Rome. The series of columns at the front of the building creates an active frontage that connects with the surrounding infrastructure and draws upon design influences from the buildings of Rome’s EUR district, an area of the city that was constructed for the proposed Universal Exposition of Rome in 1942.
“The use of SureClad® ceramic granite with white and grey tones follows this design inspiration through to the façade finish bringing a little Italian flair and classic design to Stansted.”
Alongside the colourway and finish of the SureClad® façades, the size and spacing of the ceramic granite panels was also central to answering the architect’s aesthetic aspirations for the Hampton by Hilton Stansted project.
In total, more than 10,000 panels were cut individually by Shackerley to meet the specific requirements of the building. They were supplied to the site with fixing straps securely anchored to the rear as part of the SureClad® installation-ready ventilated façade system, with all prefabrication carried out off-site at Shackerley’s ISO900l accredited production plant. The company’s Queen’s Award winning SureClad® Access system was used for the installation, facilitating rapid non-sequential installation and providing the required flexibility in design.
The building has been designed to maximise the light within each room with the light penetration always equating to 10 per cent of the room area. However, room size and orientation varies across the building, which has prompted differently sized windows.
These design principles have also affected the way the cladding system has been installed. Alessio Venturi explains: “The façade is based on a repeated module placed between the 500mm wide columns which are repeated consistently across the building. Each module is divided into either two or three parts to define the width of the windows and the panels on the façade.”
While SureClad® facades are usually installed with an 8mm open joint between each ceramic granite panel. LRW wanted the SureClad® system to express the two or three part division of each module and a design decision was taken to expand the joint to 15mm. This increased gap between the panels provides a visible indication of the geometry used to design the façade.
Alessio Venturi continues: “Specifying the SureClad® system provided us with the design flexibility we needed to achieve this approach to the façade as we could trust Shackerley to cut the panels to our exact requirements. Where we wanted to emphasise the verticality and modularity of the building, we could articulate these principles with an extended joint between ceramic granite panels.”
In addition to enabling the design team to express its creative vision for the building, the SureClad® ceramic granite façade has also been instrumental in answering the practical needs of the building’s location.
“The proximity of the hotel to the terminal building, hangars and runway create a tough environment for the façade,” explains Alessio Venturi, “with airborne pollutants that could cause a risk of discolouration or degradation to many façade materials. However, the impermeability of Shackerley’s ceramic granite system means that it will resist the harsh conditions of its location and keep its quality appearance over time with minimal maintenance.”
A fully-vitrified material, Shackerley’s SureClad® ceramic granite has virtually zero porosity, as defined by BS EN14411. Panels are completely unaffected by climatic extremes, as they conform to all international standards for freeze/thaw resistance, and they will not fade, however intense the U/V light exposure. The non-combustible (Class 0) material also offers excellent resistance to acids, alkalis and graffiti and does not promote algae growth.
Alessio Venturi adds: “We needed a solution that would carry through the design intention of a timeless, classic look over a long service life, supporting the aspirational quality of the Hilton brand. The SureClad® system was the ideal choice to meet those criteria and it looks fantastic on the finished building.”
High Flying Impact
The use of the SureClad® ceramic granite ventilated façade at the Hampton by Hilton Hotel Stansted builds on the use of Shackerley’s cladding systems at a number of Hilton properties, including the brand’s Wembley hotel completed in readiness for the 2012 Olympic Games and a major extension to the Hilton London Gatwick Airport a decade earlier.
It will ensure that the new flagship for the Hampton by Hilton chain provides a high quality, classic new addition to Stansted for use by high flying businessmen and holidaymakers alike.