Guest Blog: "This one will be our Sunflowers!" - Owen Coyle, Joint CEO, Keystone Group - EH Smith

Guest Blog: “This one will be our Sunflowers!” – Owen Coyle, Joint CEO, Keystone Group

  • Project: Defence National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC)
  • Architect: Purcell UK Architects/Steffian Bradley Architects/John Simpson Architects
  • Contractor: Interserve
  • Brickwork Contractor: Lee Marley Brickwork
  • Merchant: E H Smith
  • Brick Slip products: IG Masonry Support, part of the Keystone Group

14 April 2020

At IG Masonry Support we love Brick. We wouldn’t class ourselves as artists with brick but we do see splendour in what we do. One project we’re very proud of is DNRC, Loughborough. The distinguished façades of the timeless brick buildings feature over 1000 of our Brick Slip Arches and near 3km of our Brick Slip Cornice.

I remember saying to our team when we took on this mammoth project “This is one we will tell our Grandkids about, this will be our Sunflowers!”

I always recall seeing Van Goghs, Sunflowers painting hanging up in my old school, thinking, there are a few times in life that we can truly create something special.

First the opportunity must present itself and then we need all the right ingredients; experience and skill.

With DNRC all the right ingredients were in place and now the pictures of this finished brick building hang proudly on our walls in IG Masonry Support.

DNRC was an immense project on a scale like we had never done before with 1000 number, 3mm joint, Brick slips arches, corbelling, soffits and cornices.

Classical architectural style was used in the design  by Purcell UK Architects, Steffian Bradley Architects and John Simpson Architects. This allowed DNRC to become part of the existing building landscape. Two storey structures were configured around a series of interlocking courtyards and external garden spaces, creating distinguished, timeless buildings respectful of the existing architecture, including the Grade II listed Standford Hall. In order to preserve the pre-eminent position of the north elevation of the hall, the buildings were constructed in high quality brick with stone dressings. By using yellow and light buff shades of bricks in selected areas, greater prominence was added to the most important buildings, reflecting the architectural qualities of the estate.

Each elevation features a network of complex brickwork elements.  IG Masonry Support’s Brick Slip Arches and Cornice offered the perfect solution for achieving the key architectural brick features on the exterior façades of the buildings.

A clock tower retained from the demolished stable block at the historic estate forms the cornerstone of the main courtyard which features a series of impressive brick arches throughout its ground floor elevation. The designs of the brick arches vary throughout the course of each elevation, featuring a collection of different classical styles.

The largest free standing arch installed on the development spanned an impressive 8672.5mm opening, weighing in at  2650kg. This bespoke brick slip solution incorporated a 307mm deep brick soffit and 805.8mm brick face. The base of the arch sits at 9.5 metres above ground level.

Crowning the brick façade of each building is a corbelled cornice detail with a varying degree of complexity across the site, particularly evident in the application of the apex cornice.

When we reflect back on our work at DNRC we see innovative and beautiful engineering in brick. We think we got it right and we’re pretty proud of what we did. Long may the pictures of the brick and DNRC hang on the walls of IG Masonry Support….. beside Van Goghs Sunflowers!