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UKRRIN Birmingham University 7

1,200sqm of Sotech’s Optima FC system in 2mm Corten A has been used in the completion of a brand-new purpose-built centre for specialist research in digital railway engineering at the University of Birmingham.

Clad in the distinguished steel Corten material, which weathers over a period of 6-36 months, the material was selected as a direct nod to the rail industry, with the Corten providing the same visual impact as railway lines and track signalling.

Designed by Associated Architects, the Corten material has fully weathered, linking perfectly to the Engineering disciplines the University will deliver.

UKRRIN Birmingham University 7

UKRRIN Birmingham University 3

The building represents the first phase of construction work for a £46.5m School of Engineering development at the University of Birmingham. Procured through the Constructing West Midlands framework, the 3,000m2 facility offers a variety of contemporary and flexible design and research spaces that act as an incubator for innovation, strengthening teaching and building research partnerships.

UKRRIN Birmingham University 2

UKRRIN Birmingham University 4

Open offices, meeting rooms, seminar rooms and event spaces will enable industry partners to come and work directly with University experts and researchers.


Jamie Smith, Estimator at Sotech said: “The façade was expertly installed by Alucraft Ltd with the finish quality testament to the hard work put in to complete this project”.

Warren Jukes, director at Associated Architects, was quoted on the UKRRIN web site as saying: “The completion of the UKRRIN facility is an important milestone within the wider School of Engineering project.  We are thrilled with the distinct identity achieved using weathered steel, which epitomises the industrial nature of the railway industry in a contemporary and refined style – juxtaposing yet complimenting the buff brick of the School of Engineering and traditional styles of the iconic red brick buildings on campus.

Nick Gibb, deputy managing director for the Midlands at Willmott Dixon, added: “Despite completing the final stages of the project during the Covid-19 pandemic, our teams optimised industry-leading safety and social distancing measures, which meant we were able to remain on-site during the pandemic and ultimately deliver this phase of the project on time.”



Project name: UKRRIN, Birmingham University

Location: Birmingham

Sector: Education

Installer: Alucraft Ltd

Main Contractor: Willmott Dixon

Architect: Associated Architects


About Corten

Corten is a group of steel alloys which were developed to eliminate the need for painting, and form a stable rust-like appearance, with the corrosion process usually taking about 18-36 months.

The anticorrosive properties of weather resistant steel are better than those of other structural steels and the material is self-protecting as the rust layer on the surface becomes a tight oxide layer that slows down the progress of corrosion.

The material reaches a stable oxidation point where further oxidation may occur but does not affect the quality of the steel.

The material is A1 non-combustible, long-lasting and fully recyclable.


Speak to an expert

If you require advice with design detail, assistance with a specification or to discuss your project in detail contact our technical department who have over 35 years’ experience in the construction industry. The team is on hand to provide knowledge and support at every stage of your project.

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