Sheffield Arts Tower

The life of an iconic listed university building has been extended for future generations of students – with innovative new window systems playing a key part in the restoration.

Architects: Avanti Architects
Fabricator: Parry Bowen
Main Contractor: BAM Construction

A prime example of post war modernist architecture, the Arts Tower has stood as a prominent landmark on the Sheffield skyline since it was erected in 1965, described by English Heritage as "the most elegant university tower block in Britain of its period”.

The School of Architecture occupies the top floors and one its famous alumnis is John Allan of Avanti Architects, rated by many as the most respected expert nationally on the conservation of modernist buildings.

At 78 m (255 ft) the Tower is currently the tallest building in Sheffield, and the tallest university building in the UK, noted for its aluminium framed façade and repetitive glass panels. Time had taken its toll however, as the 20 storey building facade had been lashed by wind, rain and variable temperatures over the past 45 years.

The first phase has been the restoration of the façade, perhaps the most important element as the key requirement was to replicate the visual appearance in line with the original iconic post-modern architecture as well as improving thermal insulation and weather performance. The design brief issued by Main Contractor BAM Construction UK included 1,700 vertical sliding windows, fixed to the concrete structure and providing minimal sightlines to make the most of dramatic views across the city from the upper floors.

Sapa Building System worked closely on the project with leading building facades expert Parry Bowen. The two companies have enjoyed a successful relationship spanning 22 years, solving design and technical detailing on both major new build and refurbishment projects.

For the Sheffield Arts Tower project, Sapa supplied its new Dualside Vertical Sliding Window, with the design teams from both Sapa and Parry Bowen working jointly on further developments to provide the client with a bespoke solution to the demands of this very exposed listed building.