Circle is the UK-based healthcare partnership with a social mission to ‘make healthcare better for the NHS and private patients.’ Established, owned and run by its clinicians, Circle’s goal is to put patients first and the organisation believes that a pleasing architectural environment can positively impact medical recovery.
Circle owns treatment centres in Hinchingbrooke, Bedfordshire and Nottingham, as well as a hospital in Bath. The organisation aims to expand by building additional hospitals in other metropolitan areas, including Plymouth, Manchester and Birmingham.
CircleBath hospital was designed and constructed between 2006 and 2009 and became an architectural benchmark for the CircleReading project. Circle’s vision for the new building involved combining clinical excellence with five-star hospitality and creating a luxury hotel environment rather than a traditional hospital.
Similar to CircleBath, prefabricated components were used for the £50 million CircleReading developments to help reduce costs. The design also required a similar rectangular upper level that appeared to float above the glass-panelled ground floor.
The project team envisioned a unique basket-weave-style design for the hospital. The vision included a bold and defining exterior feature that needed to be durable, energy-efficient and as recognisable as CircleBath’s reflective aluminium lattice.
The etalbond aluminium composite material panels were selected as a cladding solution for the CircleReading project. The material is designed to fit curved or flat surfaces and is ideal for easy cutting, curving and routing.
Etalbond is very different from traditional building materials since it can be customised to create a range of shapes. The aluminium composite material panels are lightweight, rigid, durable, easy-to-install and available in multiple colours.
UV-resistant etalbond material also retains bright colours even in harsh weather conditions.
At the end of 2013, Astec Projects completed CircleReading’s exterior layer that now blends harmoniously with the glass and wood elements of the 10,000m2 building.
The upper level was redeveloped to integrate angled panels with a sparkling black coating. The etalbond panel coating was developed in the Elval Colour’s Coating Mixing Lab. It is in line with the European (ECCA) and British Standards (BBA) and in accordance with one of the Elval Colour’s four coating lines.
The 2,000m2 of panels were formed into cassettes and mounted onto a customised support frame to create the three-dimensional basket-weave pattern that provides the hospital with its distinctive character.
The panels also feature alternating geometry that enables light to be reflected in multiple directions, fulfilling the Circle’s vision of a stunning visual facade and a sense of elegance.