An award-winning city centre regeneration project in Wakefield was one of the first applications of the MX62 curtain walling option – developed to accommodate larger dimensions and maximise natural light.

Designed by Carey Jones Chapmantolcher, the first phase of the £140m Merchant Gate development is located in the heart of Wakefield’s historic Civic Quarter and has created a vibrant new centre for business, leisure and living.  Five high specification buildings and a multi-storey car park feature more than 2,600sqm of MX curtain walling, fabricated and installed by Dortech Architectural Systems.

Achieving Large Unsupported Spans
The MX62 system was used for the ground floor retail units on each block, achieving large unsupported spans of up to 4.5m.  This latest addition to the MX range enables architects and contractors to specify even larger sizes of glass to help reduce the reliance on artificial lighting.

A maximum weight of 600kg per transom can be specified for MX62, compared to up to 400kg for the standard visible grid system.  It is available in three mullion/transom sizes – 80mm, 140mm and 200mm for further design flexibility and will accommodate 8mm to 44mm glazing as a flat façade.

A ‘Ribbon’ Effect.
At Merchant Gate, the MX Visible Grid system was specified as bands of curtain walling for the upper floors of buildings E and F.  This ribbon effect is ‘broken up’ with the introduction of glazed spandrel panels in shades of green, yellow and blue.  In other areas, panels of glazing were set into resin concrete tiles and contrasting natural timber-faced laminate cladding panels.

The curtain walling was faceted to two corner elevations and also encloses the full height stair cores for the commercial and residential elements and the car park.

Finished in dark anthracite grey, the MX system carries a variety of glass specifications to meet the acoustic and solar control requirements according to the orientation of each elevation.  Top hung concealed vents provide natural ventilation throughout.

The Architect’s Perspective
Antony Hall, Associate, Carey Jones Chapmantolcher:
“Our requirements for the curtain walling were for a well-engineered system with crisp lines that would appear substantial and robust.  The concealed vents allowed us to insert windows into the curtain walling but with less visible aluminium, and the faceted glazing achieved a curve for two prominent corners but was a considerably more cost-effective solution than curved glass. The finished effect is very strong.”

“The use of the timber panel system adds a degree of warmth to the overall composition as parts of the scheme face a conservation area, and it has a unifying effect around the new public square.  It softens the more modern edges of the curtain walling and the other cladding systems.”

One of the Most Important Regeneration Projects
The 17-acre Merchant Gate development was identified as one of the most important regeneration projects in the North of England.  Phase one has created a lively and prosperous new quarter through a combination of mixed-use buildings, delivering 66 one and two bedroom apartments, 89,000sqft of commercial and leisure space, a 1,450 space multi-storey car park and a large public square.

An Award-winning Scheme
Merchant Gate has already received two accolades in the Design Awards (Wakefield Civic Society) and developers English Cities Fund won Large Developer of the Year for the scheme at Premier Guarantee’s Excellence Awards.