The Tower - Cwmbran
The Tower, at 23-storeys is the tallest tower block in Cwmbran, South Wales, and has undergone a dramatic upgrade in both thermal performance and aesthetics with the use of Weber External Wall Insulation.
U-values in this iconic building have been substantially improved and, occupying a very focal position in the town, the 1960s tower block now has a colourful and pleasing appearance.
The refurbishment has been carried out on behalf of property owner Bron Afon Community Housing who report strong approval from The Tower’s residents at a recent tenant focus group. “We have some very positive comments from tenants of Bron Afon who appreciate a reduction in heating costs and are enjoying much greater comfort,” says Lee Phillips, project leader, Bron Afon Community Housing. “This is the second major EWI project that we have carried out in the town as the neighbouring Monmouth House is receiving the same external treatment. The Weber EWI system is working very well for us.”
The Tower provides 80 homes and has been wrapped in BBA-approved webertherm XM EWI, a high performance, lightweight system protected by meshcloth reinforced polymer render. The system calculated by Weber uses 90mm thick Mineral Fibre Density (MFD) insulation which has been mechanically applied to the substrate. MFD has the advantage of fire resistant qualities necessary for a high-rise structure. The highly weather proof webersil TF, a silicone based, through coloured, decorative finish has been used in a variety of colours and patterns to create a scheme led by the residents.
Project architect John Needham of the Pentan Partnership, Cardiff, who has worked on other projects for Bron Arfon Community Housing, says: “This iconic building required essential repairs to bring it to modern day standards. It was the tallest block in the UK and the second to be retrofitted with fire sprinklers by Bron Afon Community Housing. The original U-value was 1.13 W/m²K which has been improved to 0.29 W/m²K after application of EWI, which is remarkable. The appearance of the finished Tower block has greatly enhanced the area.”
The main contractor for the refurbishment was Seddon Construction Limited and the Network Weber-approved system applicator was FOZCS, (formerly TFR Contract Services), Birkenhead, Merseyside. Richard Williams of Seddon managed the project and acknowledged the support provided by Weber’s technical team. He comments: “To date this is the biggest EWI project we have handled from the Bristol office and everything has gone extremely well. The application of the EWI system was delivered to schedule and it was excellent to have the regular support of the Weber technical team to ensure the system achieved the target results.”
Steve McCumiskey, site manager, FOZCS, is also enthused by the success of the project. “The Weber EWI system gives us the ability to achieve a superb finish and when the colours chosen are bright and imaginatively used as they are on The Tower the building takes on a new life. The insulation will make life more comfortable for the residents and the reduction in energy consumption is a great benefit.”
The Tower is recognised as a landmark in the ‘new town’ of Cwmbran where work started in 1951 under the now disbanded Cwmbran Development Corporation. The central retail area was started in 1959 followed by The Tower residential block which was completed in 1967. This classic 1960s urban architecture and the outlying estates are very representative of their time and remains a magnet for architects.