Appleton Tower

Client: University of Edinburgh

Completed in 1969, Appleton Tower is one of Edinburgh’s tallest buildings. In recent years the building had become virtually unusable due to the poor condition of its original façade which no longer allowed the building to be naturally ventilated in the manner originally intended. Its poor thermal performance and aluminium-framed single glazed windows also contributed to high running costs. 

LDN Architects led a team of specialist consultants and contractors to redesign the building façade to provide a new high performance building envelope and rejuvenate the appearance of the building. This new envelope allows the building to be naturally ventilated comfortably once again and has reduced running costs by over twenty five per cent. A photovoltaic array was also integrated within the south-facing portion of the tower elevation to further reduce the building energy usage.

The external appearance was also altered by the use of an engineered stone cladding system. This system allowed the structural loadings onto the existing concrete frame to be kept to a minimum and the colour selected allowed a visual continuity to be achieved with the other University buildings on the opposite side of the street.

The logistical challenges of the project were further increased by the fact that the lower floors of the building had to remain active during the course of the project. Appleton Tower serves as a main hub of teaching, containing five lecture theatres that can have up to 1000 students entering and exiting per hour, plus containing the second largest server room on the university campus. The tower, being one of the highest buildings in the university estate, also serves as the high point of the campus-wide CHP network which had to remain active during the project.

In addition to the façade replacement the University took the opportunity to make a number of major alterations. The main open rooftop space that contained a number of redundant plant spaces was enclosed in a new steel frame and glazed envelope to create a new storey of accommodation. A new telecoms area was formed on top of the tower to create a screened area for telecommunication companies to locate the masts and dishes that had previously littered the face of the tower.

Finally, the building had suffered from not having a recognisable and appropriate entrance and the opportunity was taken to create a new entrance pavilion with reception and courtyard that fully connected with the existing stair and lifts to complete the re-presentation of the Tower to the public realm.

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