The University of Glasgow were required to upgrade the University’s IT infrastructure. The Kelvin Data Centre, otherwise known as ‘The Black box’ was pushed through planning back in April 2017.

Their intention was to construct a two-storey building within a constricted site just off University Gardens Lane. Clad in Dark rainscreen Cladding above a brick plinth the Centre would be accessed via a single storey entrance annex. Once approved the build sequence started on site in February 2019.

The Architect appointed HLM Architects observed in their design statement “Due to the site constraints and design limitations, the Data Centre essentially becomes nothing more than a “Black box” for storing data. The design does not attempt to disguise the fact but tries to improve what would otherwise be a blank box.

“The ‘Black box’ is articulated to some degree through the diminishing arrangement of the vertical cladding panels, and the addition of a continuous horizontal louvre which wraps around the building, and which is required as part of the mechanical system.

The cladding treatment and the brick base are intended to provide some subtle variation within the blank façade of the Data Halls.

Planning Stage Design:


Britfab Ltd worked closely with HLM Architects to ensure their design was not compromised and with some minor alterations to modules to suit material constraints, this was realised. The introduction of perforations on some entrance façade panels complete with the integration of backing trays in a contrasting Blue colour (RAL5005) has added to the building aesthetics.

Panels shown above are generally 2650mm high x varying width modules. Top panels being 420mm wide, second level being 630mm and base level being 1260mm wide modules, giving the required diminishing effect.

Panels were fabricated using Alpolic FR material which carries BBA certification. These were constructed using Britfab ‘BF2/BF3’ Hybrid panels complete with vertical Support grid elements which in turn were supported behind by a composite panel.

Completed Build:


‘Walker Cladding Ltd (Director) Iain Sweden commented –

 We are proud to announce the successful completion of the Anthracite Grey Alpolic Cladding at Kelvin Data Centre, Glasgow University. The work was completed ahead of time and we are pleased that all parties involved are delighted with the project. The system supplied by Britfab Ltd was very easy to install particularly with the compact conditions in which we had to operate. We look forward to being involved in any future developments and thank all our construction partners involved.

Project Facts:

  • .Main Contractor – Graham Construction Ltd
  • Architect – HLM Architects
  • Sub Contractor – Walker Cladding Ltd
  • System – BF2/BF3 Hybrid system panels

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