Corian® lights up the architectural face of the City of London
The new Motel One building by Mackay + Partners in the historic Minories neighbourhood of the City of London features an illuminated façade made from DuPont™ Corian® high-tech surface. Photography courtesy of Mackay + Partners, all rights reserved.

Taking the place of a run-down office building in the heart of the City of London, the striking new “Motel One” building by “Mackay + Partners” features ground-breaking use of DuPont Corian® high-tech surface as an illuminated façade. The first commercial building in the UK to adopt this exciting application for the renowned DuPont advanced surface, the structure presents a sparkling new face to the heart of the financial district, set within the historic Minories neighborhood.

Offering a welcome new four star facility to the area, the latest Motel One operation hosts 291 bedrooms and is now open for business. The building comprises two forms: a seven storey “decorative cube” fronting the street and a sixteen storey glass tower to the rear. Designed by Mackay + Partners for developers Endurance Land & Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, it brings a bright and a fresh new identity and a directional aesthetic vision to the area. The concept enjoyed full support from the City of London planning department who were happy to explore the choice of DuPont Corian® as the exterior cladding material, as opposed to the more typical specifications of steel, glass or stone.

“The design is entirely contemporary, yet fully responsive to its current and known future context,” says Ken Mackay of Mackay + Partners, “I have specified DuPont Corian® for other applications and so I am well aware of its properties, but the choice of Corian® to clad this project came about through extensive research and working very closely with DuPont.”

This elegant exterior skin for the new building functions both as a sustainable open-jointed rain screen façade and also as a distinctive design feature. The eye-catching cladding, made from DuPont Corian® in a translucent white, presents a pure and simple finish during daylight hours, but at night, backlit designs within certain panels illuminate the structure to dramatic effect. The LED lighting system is on a colour wheel that can be changed via computer controlled dimming and the patterns and hues chosen reflect the Motel One brand. This combination of rain screen cladding with LED lighting is a first for London, according to the architects.

The exterior cladding was created using approximately 1000 square metres of DuPont Corian® high-tech surface in a 12mm thickness and by exploiting the brand’s unique 1500mm width sheet to reduce the necessity for additional joints. The facade system was installed by specialists Silverside Trading of Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex.

Mackay + Partners ensured a high standard of sustainability in all aspects of the development, which has achieved a BREEAM excellent energy rating. Key to this was the design of a façade with excellent thermal performance (and just 35% glazing) plus the specification of heat recovery systems and green roofs to further enhance efficiency and mitigate rainwater run-off.

Gwyn Richards of the City of London comments: “The building’s vibrant and playful facades demonstrate that new hotel buildings need not have bland, monotonous and repetitive facades. The ground-breaking use of DuPont Corian® as a facing material is innovative and convincing, both during the day and also when illuminated at night. The building demonstrates the importance of an ingenious architectural approach being carried through to implementation, in terms of the integrity of the original architectural concept, but also the highest quality of detailing and materials.

The building sits comfortably within its surroundings whilst creating a highly compelling work of contemporary architecture which can be proud of its place in the City’s dynamic architectural character.”

Mark Hill, Country Manager of DuPont Corian® for UK and Ireland, says: “The possibilities for the application of DuPont Corian® to facades are fascinating and full of possibility. We are totally committed to working with the industry to explore what can be accomplished in design terms, while ensuring beneficial functionality and long lasting performance. The results achieved with the Motel One project by Mackay + Partners are not only a first for the UK but also a beacon for adventurous and inspiring building design.”

DuPont Corian® is proving to be a valuable solution for façade applications in many ways, from design versatility to long term functionality. Completely homogenous and non-porous, it is easy to clean and maintain. It is also fire rated, resistant to graffiti, UV and climatic conditions – and should any damage occur – the material is repairable. DuPont Corian® is compatible with a ‘secret’ fix undercut anchor system and its lightweight, workable properties are a further benefit to both fabrication and installation.

DuPont Corian® also offers the broadest range of international certification for facade applications among solid surfaces and has passed a series of fundamental tests for its application to the exterior of buildings. These include freeze/thaw cycling resistance, standards proving the material’s resistance to exterior environmental substances, fire performance tests, and tests for abuse resistance. Further information and certificates are available on request from DuPont.

Related Uses & Applications

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