Home Appointments & Contracts A Physic-Ally Eye-Catching Facade

A Physic-Ally Eye-Catching Facade

The first ever public building for the Institute of Physics (IOP), has become the latest development in London to feature a combination of eye-catching cladding panels from Proteus Facades, based in Skelmersdale.

The IOP was looking to relocate from Portland Place and open a new public institute to house the organisation’s membership activities, support its ambition to engage different communities, and make physics more accessible to a wider audience.

Based in ‘the Knowledge Quarter’, part of a 19th century Keystone conservation area in Kings Cross, the new headquarters 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.

Located at the junction of Caledonian Road and Balfe Street, the new IOP building replaces vacant shops that were in desperate need of regeneration. Architects TateHindle recognised this as the ideal space for the new headquarters and created a design that is both state-of-the art, but respectful to the historical character of the neighbourhood.


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 along Caledonian Road which also acts as a ‘shopfront’ and provides views of the exposed concrete walls within.

TateHindle added a one-and-a-half-storey extension to the original structure, which houses a corporate meeting space for hire. 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 on Caledonian Road; whilst perfectly complementing the brick and glass exterior on the lower levels and concrete interior.

Installed by Longworth Building Solutions, Proteus HR was specified because it is a lightweight, strong and versatile system that creates an optically flat aesthetic. 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 the Proteus aluminium carrier system and ancillary components anchored to a cantilever steel frame from the underlying masonry structure. These allowed the 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 state-of-the-art 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.

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 facing onto Caledonian Road 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.

With a striking design that flows throughout the building, TateHindle, alongside main contractor Murphy Group and Proteus Facades have together created an outward-looking and contemporary building; perfectly answering the client’s brief for a space that makes physics accessible and embodies how it is woven into our everyday lives.

The Institute of Physics is the professional body and learned society for physics in the UK and Ireland. It inspires people to develop their knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of physics.

The organisation works with a range of partners to support and develop the teaching of physics in schools. IOP aims to encourage innovation, growth and productivity in business including addressing significant skills shortages and providing evidence-based advice and support to governments across the UK and in Ireland.

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