The 512-bed hospital is in a semi-rural development surrounded by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and an RSPB nature reserve, so the design and choice of materials for the exterior were critical.
The four main wings of the 57,000m2 building are arranged in series of fingers that extend out towards the surrounding woods, designed to maximise patients’ views, natural daylight and ventilation. Textura was used as a decorative rainscreen cladding on all the south-facing facades.
Textura’s complementary colours of off-white and light green enabled us to minimise the visual impact of the building on the sensitive surroundings, and the fibre cement cladding boards are rated A+ in the BRE Green Guide to Specification, which helped us achieve an “excellent” score under the NHS Environmental Assessment Tool (NEAT).
The hospital was delivered for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust under a PFI requiring 35-year warranties, so we needed a tough, low-maintenance, long-lifespan material: Textura has an installed life expectancy of at least 50 years.
The product’s fine surface texture and sharply defined edges were important to how we articulated the facades. They reduced reflection and helped accentuate the play of light and shadow on the walls, which also feature a series of coloured aluminium fins mounted on the windows which are designed to reduce solar gain.
The Textura panels are mechanically fixed to an aluminium framing system, creating a rear-ventilated cavity. We looked at aluminium panelling as an alternative, partly because the material features heavily elsewhere in the building, but it lost out on affordability, ease of maintenance and sustainability.