St. Patrick’s College Atmosphere™ Facade

Second skin façade of perforated aluminium panels supported by tensioned cables

St. Patrick’s College in Strathfield is a historic school with a new civic heart, its four storey Scientia Building standing above the Breen Oval taking full advantage of the site’s natural features and northerly aspect. Architect, BVN, describes the building as a defining landmark for the school, its distinctive and highly variable wraparound aluminium shade screens transforming a simple rectangular form into a visual showpiece. The building is now a focal point for the school community.

While aesthetically pleasing and providing the building with a unique identity, the shade screens are in fact a highly technical engineered second skin façade of perforated aluminium panels supported by tensioned cables. The design and construction of these facades demands an intimate knowledge of cable behaviour and the design of tensile structures in general. For the uninitiated they are extremely difficult to execute successfully without concern of overloading mating structures or risking performance issues like excessive deflection, resonance, or noisy whistling.

The “Atmosphere™” system is a proprietary product developed by Locker Webforge with assistance from Ronstan. GHD was consulted to quantify the sustainable benefits of the system during its development. Wind tunnel testing was undertaken to optimize system stability as well as the performance of the panels in terms of resistance to vibration and resonance. This research and development reflects in the fully resolved nature of the complete system and in the refined design of the cable net components, examples of which are seen at St. Pats, Ronstan’s 21st Atmosphere™ project.

This level of experience and proven performance was applied at the Scientia Building to realize a variable passive solar shading system over operable glass sections facilitating natural ventilation. The lightweight cable support mechanisms reduce the visual impact of the support structure leaving the panels to float ethereally on the façade, and to quote BVN “…the concertina like screens provide an ephemeral veil, imbuing the façade with a sense of movement.”

Ronstan’s scope in Atmosphere™ projects includes the structural design of the façade and its supporting cable net, design and supply of the cables, panel to cable clamps, intermediate cable guide connections, anchorages as well as the system installation.

Ronstan Tensile Architecture is a global leader in tensile cables, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced professionals and learn more about the many benefits and applications of tensile cables in architecture.

All Images © Tom Roe, Tom Roe Photography.


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