Award winning motorway services – Pendock’s inside story

B28P6890-edit-corrected-crop-1800x1069pxFollowing the completion and opening of the award-winning Skelton Lakes motorway services near Leeds, Architecture Today spoke to our Technical Project Manager, Gavin Byram, to explore the design & specification process and how the principal technical challenges were overcome.


Project overview:

Designed by Corstorphine & Wright Architects, Leeds Skelton Lake Services is located at Junction 45 on the M1 and sited within a 40,000-square-metre country park. The environmentally sensitive project employs a series of large undulating green roofs supported by exposed glulam beams, while generous double-height spaces and clerestory glazing provide high levels of daylighting and a welcoming interior.

A series of bespoke architectural linings from the Pendock Linea range, formed key elements of the interior design and fit-out by combining practicality, aesthetics and durability in a busy environment with high levels of pedestrian traffic.


AT:       What was the brief and how was the design developed?

GB:      The brief from main contractor Morgan Sindall, was to supply bulkhead linings at first floor level and pilaster linings on the ground floor. The former is designed to conceal the steel floor structure on the upper level, while the latter provides an attractive and decorative finish to the open shop fronts.

For the bulkhead linings, the concept was to mimic the shape of the steel floor beams, which follow a gentle curve. This was favoured for both aesthetic and practical reasons, as it provided a convenient and clearly defined space for shop signage within the vertical ‘web’. It was decided to manufacture the bulkheads in moulded GRP, so that the lightweight linings could accurately and smoothly follow the changing line of the steel floor structure.

Added to this, the material’s pliability meant that it would be more forgiving when it came to fixing on site and adapting to reasonable construction tolerances. If a GRG-based lining was chosen, it would be prone to cracking in this type of application. The bulkhead itself comes from our Pendock’s Linea range and is part of the standard GRP offering.

However, the design and finish are bespoke to the project, which is typical of the way we work. It is worth pointing out that we can also manufacture linings from the Linea range from plywood, MDF, compact laminate, HPL, stainless steel and aluminium, as well as textured metals.

The bespoke pilaster linings are also included within our Linea range. Here, GRG was specified for reasons of fire safety, material compatibility with the drylined walls above, and ease of finishing and painting. The material also allows us to manufacture products from moulds and it is this capability that enabled us to incorporate 30mm radiused corners into the design, which ensures that there are no sharp edges around the shop fronts.

A recessed, 1mm thick stainless steel kickplate is bonded to the base of each pilaster for added protection and durability. While it was not a requirement on this project, we can design and produce Linea pilaster casings to accommodate additional services, such as mains sockets, fire alarms and CCTV.


AT:       What were the main technical challenges and how were these resolved?

GB:      The bulkheads were perhaps more challenging than usual due to the concave radius design of the shop fronts. The only way that we could accurately manufacture the linings was to template the bulkhead on site.

This involved taking thin sheets of hardboard and overlaying them on the steelwork. The timber was then cut to the line of steel beams, before being taken back to the factory and used to form the curved moulds for GRP linings.

In the case of the pilaster linings, we carefully measured each shop front on site before manufacture. The demise line that runs across the retail frontage usually ensures greater consistency. However, we still checked for construction anomalies on the sides of the columns and changes in floor-to-ceiling heights caused by multiple shopfitters working across different stores. This allowed us to maintain the level of accuracy required to ensure the final installation went smoothly.

One of our USPs, you could say, is that we rely on our own detailed surveys as a means of producing bespoke solutions. This ensures that our products accurately fit the dimensions and shapes present on site, rather than what is shown on the drawings. For example, we often find rainwater pipes and other services, which don’t appear on drawings, packed around columns as a means of solving unforeseen problems.

Following the survey, we prepared detailed drawings prior to manufacture. Every pilaster and bulkhead casing was numbered and marked up on plan drawing, making onsite installation clear and straight forward.


AT:       What fixing methods were used onsite and how did Pendock ensure accuracy and quality?

GB:      The decorative nature of the linings meant that the client wanted to see neat, clean lines with no visible fixings. As a result, the bulkhead linings are primarily bonded to the timber subframe.

Mechanical fixings are also used, but these are concealed by the store signage panels. The pilaster linings are mechanically fixed into a timber subframe and the counter-sunk screwheads are filled, sanded, refilled then given three coats of paint along with the rest of the item to achieve a smooth and consistent finish.

Once we had completed the installation, the bulkhead linings and pilasters were wrapped with thick corrugated plastic sheets to protect them from accidental damage during final site clear up.