State-of-the-art Hopewood Park sets new benchmarks for quality and long term value in modern mental health accommodation using Dura Cladding

Deciding on a look for a new build or renovation can be a seriously stressful experience for the end client, whether they be a self builder or a multi-national organisation. Many wrestle with the dilemma of using modern materials for a sleek and fresh look or the use traditional materials such as wood. Whilst natural wood cladding represents a sizeable chunk of the wall cladding and façade market place, it is an area that must be fully understood if you are to achieve the look you want for a long period of time. That is because most timber cladding will fade significantly and begin to rot over time unless it is treated with the appropriate paint or stain at regular intervals.

An alternative to using natural timber comes in the form of composite timber cladding. That is where natural wood flour is used within a composite mix to create a material that is more suited to battling the elements over an extended life cycle in all weather conditions. Dura Cladding is the leading product on the market where selected recycled wood and recycled high density polyethylene is used to create a cladding plank that offers the natural appearance of wood cladding but without the hassle or expense of periodic maintenance to preserve the wood.

Hopewood Park, a new 137-bed purpose-built mental health hospital, was completed in June 2014 at Ryhope, Sunderland. It has been designed to provide modern and inspiring facilities for local mental health services by Medical Architecture, who utilised Dura Composites’ Dura Cladding as a major design element. The design idea was to use a cladding material commensurate with the state-of-the-art design brief but yet would be ‘at one’ with nature. Natural wood cladding is the obvious choice but this would require significant maintenance and its appearance would change significantly over time as the wood weathers.

The natural wood look and texture of the composite Dura Cladding enhanced the feeling of tranquillity and connection with the local landscape; its defining use was on several different types of wall façade as well as cladding for soffits and under ceilings. As well as contributing so much to the overall design ethos, Dura Cladding is easily installed, needs minimal maintenance and will not splinter, warp or rot throughout its 50 years design life expectancy whilst retaining the vast majority of its colour following initial weathering period. Another significant factor that led to its selection were the green credentials – 87% recycled content and also the fact that the product can be supplied as FSC © 100%.

The hospital design was inspired by Ryhope’s river valley and cleverly uses the sloping site to maximise the views towards the North Sea. The new mental health campus provides a safe recovery centred environment with generous and relaxing places to appreciate views to the coast and surrounding landscape which sets new benchmarks for quality and long term value in modern mental health accommodation.

Aesthetics of a building are always subjective and can be a highly emotive subject especially for the façade of a building. An aspect that is not subjective though, are life cycle costs. As Dura Cladding does not require painting or staining and together with the long design life, despite initially costing more, composite cladding can actually work out significantly cheaper when life cycle costs are added into the equation.