Knauf – the UK’s leading manufacturer of lightweight building materials and systems – has shown its long-term commitment to training and innovation in the UK with the official opening of The Cube: its multi-million pound training, visitor and administrative centre.
A striking modernist inspired building designed by leading architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, The Cube is a statement of the firm’s ambitions and intent as it not only showcases its products and systems but also provides the training facilities to educate the workforce of the future.
Already the building has been award shortlisted – in the Small Project of the Year (up to £5m) category of the Building Awards 2014.
The two hour fire protection for the building’s steel frame, for example, is provided by Knauf’s Encasement system – a clip-on rail system that makes it easy to attach the boards without drilling holes in the steel. The Cube is insulated using Knauf ThermaFrame, a complete though-wall system that uses slotted steel studs, to inhibit the conduction of heat, and two layers of insulation between the studs and on the inner face.
Outside, the building is finished in Aquapanel boards with Knauf Marmorit, a spray-applied render, completing the outer skin.
Naturally, plasterboard is a prominent feature internally: Knauf Soundshield Plus cuts down impact and transmitted noise while the partitions comprise various versions of Knauf’s Performer system. The walls’ immaculate finish was achieved using Knauf Airless plaster, a ready mixed spray plaster made from crushed marble and polymer and organic binders.
The ceilings consist of perforated panels from Knauf’s Cleaneo Akustic range which not only absorb sound but improve air quality through adsorbing VOCs – volatile organic compounds that are given off by paints, finishes and office equipment. On the upper floors of the building, Knauf’s GIFAfloor raised access flooring creates the space to run services.
Providing 240m2 of classroom and practical teaching space, The Cube can cater for up to 20 students at a time – 9 Carillion apprentices have already started a 14-week training programme – and will provide dedicated courses in areas such as drylining, modern projection plastering, dry floor screeding and framed building infill systems.
A collaboration across all Knauf UK businesses, The Cube will teach both the theory and practice of all areas of lightweight dry construction. Ian Stokes, Knauf Managing Director, said: “There is a desperate shortage of skilled trades in the UK – in Europe as a whole for that matter. And if UK manufacturing is to lead the nation back into growth, there has to be a new wave of up and coming professionals ready to deploy the latest construction techniques”.
“By providing the education, knowledge and training – from specification to installation – Knauf is not only underwriting the continued success of its products and business; but of the British building industry as a whole”.