A Physic-Ally Eye-Catching Façade

The aluminium cladding on the ventilation stacks and other views of the new Institute of Physics building in London's Kings Cross.v
View from inside the building through the window
The aluminium cladding on a kings cross building by Proteus Facades
The cladding on a kings cross building by Proteus Facades

The Institute of Physics has moved in to a brand new London headquarters development which features aluminium cladding panels.

Based in ‘the Knowledge Quarter’ in Kings Cross, the new building provides education and exhibition facilities alongside a combination of office and public space with a basement auditorium and exhibition gallery, which are both open to the public.

As conservation was key in this project two main external brick facades on the original structure were retained, with an entrance bay inserted to create a visual slot through to the completely refurbished interior. In addition, the 5-storey development features floor-to-ceiling windows that provide views of the exposed concrete walls within.

Architect TateHindle added a one-and-a-half-storey extension to the original structure, which houses a corporate meeting space for hire. This is clad in solid Proteus HR 1.0mm VM Zinc panels with a Pigmento Blue finish, the façade remains in keeping with the uniformity of shopfronts in the area whilst complimenting the brick and glass exterior on the lower levels and concrete interior.



Installed by Longworth Building Services Limited, Proteus HR was specified because it is a lightweight, strong and versatile system. The integrated modular rainscreen panels feature an aluminium honeycomb core, structurally bonded between two thin gauges of lightweight metal skin to create an optically flat panel.

Each panel is supported by a Proteus aluminium carrier system and ancillary components anchored to a cantilever steel frame from the underlying masonry structure. These allow panels to be hooked-on from behind, accentuating the sheer, smooth façade interrupted only by strips of lighter cladding built into the design to compartmentalise the flat elevations.

A distinctive and punctuating feature of this upper storey façade is a series of ventilation stacks, also clad in a combination of solid and perforated single skin Pigmento Blue Proteus HR Zinc panels, with built in aluminium stiffening frames.


Energy efficiency

The stacks, which replace the original chimneys, are designed to draw in cold air at roof level and deliver it through floor-level grilles, using physics to reduce the carbon footprint of the building.



A vertical column marking the main entrance to the building and a third floor façade also feature Proteus HR VM Zinc.

Taking the architect’s design from the outside in, Proteus SC perforated panels in 2mm aluminium with a RAL 7031 finish feature internally, with 20mm diameter holes carefully placed in an offset triangular pattern, to match those featured on the ventilation stacks.

Proteus SC is an engineered panel system that is offered in either solid, perforated or mesh panel formats. By utilising an extensive range of metals, colours, textures and forms it can add another dimension to any façade cladding project. The system can be manufactured in a variety of metals and from 1mm to 6mm in thickness. For internal applications, like the IOP, Proteus Facades provides contrasting fabric inserts and an acoustic insulation layer can be encapsulated within the perforated panels.

Picture: The aluminium cladding on the ventilation stacks and other views of the new Institute of Physics building in London's Kings Cross.


Article written by Cathryn Ellis
03rd September 2020


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