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|Architect||Stride Treglown, Atkins|
|Railing type||Glass railings|
|Line/Series||Easy Glass Slim|
At the end of 2016, a stunning architectural landmark was completed in the Science Park at Exeter, UK. Home to the national weather service, it has an almost science-fiction feel. That is entirely appropriate, given that the building is home to the £97m Cray XC40 supercomputer. When it came to selecting a glass railing provider for the mezzanine and main staircase, project architect Stride Treglown and concept architect Atkins were keen to work with Q-railing. The company’s Easy Glass Slim system was used to create a frameless balustrade that perfectly complements the building’s modern glass windows and hardwood ceiling design elements.
The Met Office is responsible for making critical short-term and long-term predictions regarding the weather, air quality and flood risk. Only the most powerful computers in the world can run the models they use. In fact, their supercomputer is capable of performing 14,000 trillion calculations per second and weighs in at 140 tonnes. Naturally, a machine like that requires a very special environment. The Exeter Met Office building, begun in 2015, is not only home to this electronic leviathan, but also large numbers of staff and scientists.
A sci-fi building
The 3,000-square-metre facility consists of two steel-framed structures. Firstly, there is a 2,000-square-metre IT hall. At 90 metres long and 25 metres wide, it houses the supercomputer. Secondly, there is a ‘collaboration space’ covering 1,000 square metres over 2 storeys. Fans of science-fiction films will no doubt see a wealth of cinematic influences on both structures. The result is a highly distinctive building that reflects the pioneering work undertaken by the Met Office.
Stunning and safe frameless balustrade becomes one with the interior
The collaboration space includes a mezzanine floor. A robust railing system was required for its edge, and for the sides of the feature staircase leading to it. The architectural teams at Stride Treglown and Atkins quickly identified Q-railing’s Easy Glass Slim frameless balustrade as the ideal solution. Able to resist line loads of up to 1.5 kN/m, it actually exceeded the specified loading requirements. They also considered that the Slim system would look right at home in the ultra-modern setting. In the finished building, the all-glass railing virtually disappears when viewed through the complex transparent facade. The effect is striking.
Construction News Project of the Year award
In total, 60 metres of Easy Glass Slim frameless balustrade were installed on the mezzanine floor and access stairs. The design uses 19 mm toughened glass and incorporates a 42.4 mm stainless steel cap rail for extra safety and a stylish finish.
In 2017, the Met Office building in Exeter won the Construction News Project of the Year award for its outstanding architecture. In addition, it was honoured with a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating for its environmental, social and economic sustainability.