Home » Stunning domed green roof project wins UK Roofing Award 2023

Stunning domed green roof project wins UK Roofing Award 2023

by Matt Downs

LRL Roofing Solutions worked with Bauder on the First Light Pavillion project at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in Macclesfield, which won the Green Roof category at this year’s prestigious UK Roofing Awards. We take a closer look at this tricky and innovative project

The impressive domed green roof installed by LRL Roofing Solutions on the First Light Pavillion at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has been crowned winner of the Green Roof category at this year’s prestigious UK Roofing Awards.

Situated on a UNESCO World Heritage Site in leafy Macclesfield, the new First Light Pavilion building forms part of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, owned and operated by the University of Manchester. The unique dome structure blends effortlessly into its natural surroundings, set against the backdrop of the imposing and historic Lovell Telescope.

Designed by architects Hassell, the First Light Pavilion itself takes inspiration from the large telescope by mirroring its exact scale and shape. To celebrate the site’s history as hosting one of the world’s largest and most powerful radio telescopes, Hassell tasked Tier 1 contractor Kier with developing the new visitor centre in such a way that it had a minimal impact on the environment and was in keeping with the heritage of the site. The roof itself plays a key role in the building’s architecture and visitors are encouraged to explore the dome as they take a break from learning about the wonders of the universe.

The domed roof presented a number of installation challenges for the LRL Roofing Solutions team.

Tasked with delivering a waterproofing system that allowed the integrity of the building to remain intact whilst also providing the foundations for the green roof system to flourish, LRL Roofing Solutions worked with Bauder who designed a system in line with its ‘Bauder Total Green Roof’ specification that was compatible with working on a dome structure.

For such an innovative and demanding project, the build-up and materials used were split into two separate specifications; firstly, the Bauder waterproofing system, comprising of coverings for multiple layers of reinforced bituminous membranes, a vapour control layer, thermal insulation, and underlay and root resistant capping sheet membranes. The second part of the specification was the Bauder Green Roof landscaping system, including the separation, protection, and drainage layers, substrates, alongside planting and accessories.

The LRL Roofing Solutions team explained that the shape of the roof provided the operatives with a number of challenges which were overcome through collaboration with the manufacturer. A large amount of planning was involved in making sure that the roof was set out correctly, with the Contracts Manager producing a phased plan by splitting the circular dome into 16 separate segments to ensure the correct coverage and sufficient laps on the waterproofing. 

An added complexity was the pitch of the roof. At each lap of the Bauder Plant E capping sheet, the insulation needed to be reduced by 20mm to allow a 300mm strip of 18mm plywood to be installed. This allows the membrane to be mechanically fixed which is a requirement on roofs above 5 degrees.

Large timbers were required to the perimeter kerbs to ensure that the green roof and substrate was securely in place, but also allowed water to discharge to the rainwater goods. The timbers, which were similar to railway sleepers, were mechanically fixed to the concrete and encapsulated by the waterproofing. This was then extended 1m down the vertical side, where the groundworkers had installed a root barrier system against it to create the effect of the dome blending into the ground below. Again, due to the shape of the roof, this made laying the insulation complicated for the team. It had to be cut and chamfered to fit securely to the dome. Also, whilst aesthetics were a key driver of the design, the waterproofing integrity and quality installation of the Bauder system was essential to the long-term success of the project. Any future issues would be difficult to find and rectify, hence the type of system used and number of inspections by the manufacturer. 

Discussing the project’s success at the UK Roofing Awards, Robert Richmond, LRL Roofing Solutions MD, explained: ‘’We were excited and quietly confident of success this year due to the quality and magnitude of the Jodrell Bank project.

“Not only was this a great event, spending time with some of the top roofing contractors in the country, seeing some of the wonderful work that takes place nationwide within our illustrious industry, we also got to celebrate success within our ranks and socialise in a manner that doesn’t happen day to day. I am extremely proud of what the team has achieved, this includes both past and present colleagues and our subcontractors.” 


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