This groundbreaking project required a sheathing board that would form an integral part of an insulated render system whilst meeting project-specific acoustic requirements.

  • The Project: Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital
  • Project Value: £70 million
  • Architect: Keppie Design
  • Main Contractor: Lend Lease
  • Subcontractor: Farpod Dry Lining
  • Product: Versapanel
  • Size: 2800mm x 1200mm x 12mm
  • Quantity: 30,000m2

Specialised but multifunctional.

It sounds like a contradiction in terms. Yet ‘specialised but multifunctional’ is a particularly apt description of Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, a pioneering £70 million project, and the first hospital in the UK to house Accident and Emergency consultants 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Although specialising in emergency care, the 316-bed facility, with seven wards and six operating theatres, is designed to treat the most pressing heart, respiratory, stroke, gastro-intestinal and gynaecological conditions. What’s more these front-line, critical-care services are fully supported by radiology, blood sciences and pathology departments. The facility serves a sweeping geographical area, from Hexham midway between Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Carlisle, to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, high up on the East coast.

Specialised but multifunctional. Focused but wide-ranging.

The same qualities ‘to do not just one thing exceptionally well, but many’ is often required of construction materials.

When award-winning, multidisciplinary architects Keppie Design created their vision for the hospital, they produced something that was both aesthetically striking and extremely practical. The design comprises a series of interconnected circles, creating the impression of a vast, contemporary castle, complete with turrets.

These elegant curves present a challenge in steel-frame construction, which utilises sheathing panels. A solution was required that would work with an external render over faceted elevations to create a seamless curvature.

As a Versapanel case study, you’d expect Versapanel to enter the narrative at this point. In fact, it was another exterior board that was originally specified for this project.

But this did not deter Euroform.

John Taylor, Euroform’s Technical Manager, said “We take a very proactive attitude to projects, identifying developments to which we can apply our technical expertise and add value, and pursuing them. Something as pioneering as the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital demands an interdisciplinary, system-based approach and we see that very much as our forte.”

The complexity and demands of this project made it a natural candidate for BIM. As such, when the time came to change the specification to Euroform’s Versapanel, it was easy to engage with all relevant stakeholders, and for the decision to be reviewed and approved.

However, Euroform’s involvement didn’t end with the simple receipt and completion of an order.

Clare Whitelam, Euroform’s General Manager, said, “We’re not simply a supplier of building boards as a palletised commodity. Our approach is system-based and technically-lead at the outset and driven by a commitment to customer service throughout and particularly during the concluding stages of a transaction. We place a great deal of importance on after sales support and on ensuring our deliveries correspond with our customers’ requirements. For the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, we drove the supply of Versapanel, over 30,000m2, through our UK-wide distribution network, in this case our Newcastle branch. The customer was able to call off quantities of board as and when needed, secure in the knowledge that the product was held locally and the supply chain robust.”

Just as Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital can be said to be specialised and multifunctional, so can Versapanel, a cement particle board that is an approved carrier of externally insulated render systems with excellent fire and acoustic resistance. Moreover, Euroform itself can be seen as a specialist supplier of building boards but, at the same time, it provides detailed technical advice to solve complex construction problems, works with construction partners to form powerful alliances and subscribes to a customer-first ethos that seeks to accommodate the many day-to-day practical challenges faced by its customers.

Ultimately, it was Euroform’s ‘points of difference’ and the added value they bring to any construction project that resulted in the originally specified cement particle board being replaced with Versapanel, because it is these points of difference that have resulted in the creation of such an exceptional product as Versapanel.