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Leeds Beckett University - Secret Fix Rainscreen 4


The Sotech team cheered via conference when its name was announced by category sponsor Ruukki – winners of the Best Use of a Rainscreen System Using Aluminium category, for their groundbreaking work on Leeds Beckett University.

The winners of the Façade Awards UK 2020, which was presented by RCI magazine, were revealed via a virtual event on 11th February, owing to lockdown restrictions in the UK.

The project selected was CTAR Leeds Beckett University, the £45 million home for the School’s undergraduate, postgraduate, and research and enterprise programmes.

A Judge overseeing the awards commented: ‘This is a spectacular building that features a complex design, bespoke detailing, and great attention to detail. The concave panels create something unique and far from a flat façade.’

Leeds Beckett University - Secret Fix Rainscreen


2000sqm Optima FC Concave Panels and 600sqm of flat Optima FC Panels in PPC Aluminium (Interpon Powder Coatings Anodic Collection Y2207l Steel Blue Platinum) were use in the project, along with 1200sqm Optima FC Anodised Red (UA Organic Colour Range – 130-0).

Anodising finish as a process (electrolytic passivation) increases the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of metal parts meaning it enhances the natural qualities of aluminium, providing a strong contemporary finish with incomparable corrosion and abrasion resistance.

UA Organic Colour Range - 130-0.Red Anodised

As you can see in the picture below, red on red etched panels were created in contrasting tones to replicate muscle fibres under the microscope.

Leeds Beckett University - Secret Fix Rainscreen 4

The Interpon Anodic range provides a great alternative to anodized aluminium.  Collection Anodic colours are supplied in Interpon D2525 super durable polyester technology to give long service life.

Aluminium is also exceptionally recyclable, requires minimal maintenance and has proven lifetime performance.

Y2207l Steel Blue Platinum Labelled 3

To assist in the architects decision making process for the concave panels, a mock-up was manufactured in three different gloss levels and positioned outside of Sotech’s manufacturing facility and training showroom to show the reflectivity in the sunlight.


As visible in the pictures, the main feature of the striking new sports building is the 60m indoor running track viewing box, encased in red anodised Optima FC panels.

Leeds Beckett University - Secret Fix Cladding

Simon Davies, an Architect at Sheppard Robson Architects said: ‘One of the key challenges we faced was how we would create a contemporary addition to an historic campus. The building composition relied heavily on elevating the indoor running track with the solid base.

This was developed with robust architectural details which reflected the existing historic buildings through a narrative of vertical fenestration and a contemporary material palette. The façade approach was informed by a study of Doric columns and how this would create an interplay of light and rhythm.

We collaborated with Sotech at the concept stage and created a prototype concave panel. With their expertise and input were able to design a panel module that was bespoke in principle but could be fixed on a standard cladding bracket system and repeated across the façade.’

Leeds Beckett University - Secret Fix Cladding 2

The panel faces were rolled to create the concave feature, and deep folded side returns added to give the panels a square back.

This meant a straight lined and levelled rail system could be used to hook on the panels, and resulted in no additional fixing time compared to a traditional flat panel system.

Sotech Specification Manager Charlie McLaughlin said: ‘I have been involved with this project from early design stage. It is a credit to everyone within Sotech that we were able to embrace all the aspects of a complex design, work through and rationalise them, without compromising the end result. This was a great team effort from all parties, resulting in a spectacular building we can all be proud of. It is wonderful to top this off with an award like this’.The Façade Awards were created to showcase the successful partnerships between manufacturers, suppliers and contractors, and the commitment to quality by the delivery teams who carry out the work on the projects involved.’

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