Woodman Brothers
External wall insulation and façade solutions

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City of Bristol College, Skills Academy

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LocationHartcliffe, Bristol
SystemInternal and External Timber Cladding
ClientCowlin - Jamie Harwood, Project Manager
TitleCity of Bristol College, Skills Academy

Forming a gateway into the newly-created Hengrove Park and a project value of £30 million, the aircraft hangar like form of this iconic structure consists of 11,000 sq m over four-storeys with distinctive curved timber facades and curtain walling.

“the team at Woodman Brothers Ltd worked extremely hard with our design team and our other suppliers to come up with solutions”.

Jamie Harwood, Project Manager, Cowlin

The unique building is divided into two distinct activity areas. The front area of the building is centred around the Winter Garden and terraces, a series of central, interactive, flexible spaces, forming the ‘heart’ of the building - a place to meet, work and socialise. The rear of the building forms a horseshoe shape around the delivery area, containing Construction and Motor Vehicle Studies, which incorporate ground floor areas that are double height spaces, to allow for natural light and ventilation requirements. The main central atrium, linking the two distinct areas, is a large open plan space spanning the full height of the building, with feature glass walls and roof light providing as much natural lighting as possible.


Jamie Harwood, Cowlin Project Manager, comments on the selection of Woodman Brothers Ltd to provide the external timber cladding facades and internal timber structures.

“We asked Woodman Brothers Ltd to provide both a rain screen cladding product for the external facade and an internaltongue and groove steamed Beech finish to both the Atrium area and Winter Garden”.

Woodman Brothers Ltd provided Western Red Cedar for the external facades due to its inherent insulation properties, keeping the building warm during Winter and cool in Summer. The very nature of the building shape however, meant that challenges would be encountered. A significant issue in completing the external curved wood facades was that the cills were aluminum and the rain screen cladding was on a radius. The sub frame to which the Cedar was fixed had to follow the line of the cills, making it extremely problematical to ensure the facades looked absolutely right.

An additional, but equally important part of the project was the creation of internal wood structures such as the tiered balconies to complement the soft curves of the external design. A wood cladding contractor that could complete both the external and internal wood projects was seen as a unique benefit, as Jamie comments,

“Woodman Brothers Ltd offer a one stop solution where timber cladding is concerned, which as a maincontractor is a big bonus”.

“A large factor in the successful management of a project such as this", concludes Jamie, “is the ability of both internal and external teams to have a full understanding of each others’ needs. We chose Woodman Brothers Ltd because we knew they would provide a total solution to the package. We didn’t need to worry about interfaces with other trades and knew they would manage the process successfully. A fantastic achievement for a building of such complexity”.


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