Monday 9 May 2011

Deptford Lounge facade

Took another look at the Deptford Lounge building construction today, in the hope that I might have been imagining it last time I examined the cladding closely.

I noticed that on the west end of the Giffin Street facade, the cladding had suddenly changed from perforated panels to solid panels. I'm not sure what to think about this - is it part of the design? If so why?

I have many questions about the cladding of this building; if anyone out there has any kind of explanation, logical or otherwise, I'd be more than happy to listen.

My questions are as follows:

Why have the panels changed from perforated to solid?

Are we really supposed to be able to see through it to the rather ugly frame behind?

Why are some of the windows covered and others not?

Why are there gaps in the cladding, will they eventually be filled?

If not, why show the steel frame through the gap?

Why the large vertical joints at two locations on the south wall, when everywhere else the panels are staggered?

Why, just why?

I was excited about this building when I first saw the renderings. Despite its bulk I felt it was an interesting design that had the potential to greatly improve Giffin Square and create a modern counterpoint to Deptford's historic high street. I am worried that this shoddy cladding is at risk of undermining the Deptford Lounge's potential.


Anonymous said...

Cladding can be tricky, and, although from a distance it can look effective, it may have the effect of not improving with age.

I recently went down to the newly built Ravensbourne College next to the dome - this, from a distance, looks unusual and appealing but closer inspection reveals that the cladding is in fact quite tinny and shoddy with numerous recesses to gather dirt and litter - it doesn't feel like a 'quality' finish at all but more of an afterthought - even possibly a cost-cutting exercise at the expense of more solid, durable materials.

Hope Deptford Lounge doesn't fall into this catergory.

Deptford Dame said...

I was never keen on the Ravensbourne cladding design, I think it's rather gimmicky. It was intended as 'camouflage' apparently, although it seems to have the opposite effect.

chusnesc said...

i dont think cladding a building 3 times over was ever a cheap solution!
i assume the facade is a kind of brise-soleil over the windows preventing overheating and glare in the rooms behind as it faces due south.
i think the 'ugliness' of the structure is a matter of opininion - there is a veritable stream of artists e.g. photographers Ernst & Hild Becher up to architects Morphosis and Richard Rogers Lloyd's building (google 'em)who have found a poetic beauty in the post industrial aesthetic - whether that's the case here remains to be seen - agreed - let's see how it ages.

chusnesc said...

sorry that's Bernd and Hilla Becher

ellearch said...


I thought I may put some insight into the cladding situation. I am an architecture student and I recently did a technical report on Tidemill and was shown around the site by the contractor several times and met with the project architect of this school.

The cladding panels were chosen because they act as sun screens and light filters. The hole sizes go up and down in
percentages. The greatest is 50% opaque on the panels over the second floor. Football pitch. The reason for this was to create the impression you can look from the playground and see the sky through the building. The other percentages are 32% and 15% which have much more material. The purpose of these panels is to act as light filters for the class rooms and sustain a high quality of
natural light without the need for additional shading.

THIS WAS THE DESIGN INTENTION and can be seen in the original renders of the building prior to it being built. the original mindset was to use TECU branded copper cladding that were suspended off cables, giving the illusion that it was floating.

During the tender this project was costed very low during the recession. Due to increased costs the contractor decided to go for a cheaper alternative (which is the copper cladding that we see today). These alternative panels had a different fitting which meant a new type of structure frame had to be built, hence the structural supports on the roof!

After all that, the cost of two different types of cladding were not much of a difference.

Deptford dame said...

@ellearch thanks for your extensive comments and insight into the history of the project.

The renderings that were made available to the public did not show sufficient detail to decipher the difference in cladding perforation, although I presume the planning application documents did - I haven't been able to find these online.

It's very disappointing that the client Lewisham Council did not prevent the substandard substitution by the contractor (perhaps because they did not fully investigate or understand the implications of the difference in cladding support frames?). Or perhaps it was more fundamental that this, maybe the contract was not sufficiently watertight to prevent this, in which case Lewisham Council needs to rewrite its standard contract.

The fact that it was tendered in a recession should really not be an excuse to cut corners at a later date, and it's up to the client to prevent this, not use it as an excuse for a shoddy product.

Deptford dame said...

oh and I forgot to add - aren't windows for looking out of as well as for providing natural light? Covering them with cladding, whether perforated or not, just seems stupid to me. There are many other ways sun shading can be provided, although perhaps not so cheaply.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Nothing better to moan about today ?

Deptford Dame said...

Aw bless, anon. You must be new here!

Anonymouse said...

Nah just trying to encourage a bit more positivity for 2012. These "local" blogs all to easily turn into a CARPATHON... Thats why I usually don't bother.. Gets a bit tedious all the griping and moaning tbh Oh and I'll call myself something other than anonymous this time... I wouldn't want you to think I was a member of LOL

Amonymouse said...

As for the cladding

Anonymouse said...

Click this hopefully LOL

Cadisch MDA said...

I quite like this cladding.