QIC Trims’ expertise in the design and manufacture of bespoke ceiling trims came to the fore in a uniquely challenging project on behalf of one of the UK’s most respected seats of learning.
In conjunction with fit-out contractor BDL, QIC fabricated a metal trim which provided the perimeter detail for a ceiling installation in atriums throughout a new £125m ‘Centre Building’ at the Westminster-based London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Designed by architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the 13-storey building – the largest structure commissioned in LSE’s history – caters for a range of academic and department uses. The structure’s interior contains a number of innovative features, each of which has been specifically designed to create an inspirational learning environment for students.
One of the most unusual additions to the building’s fabric was a stretch ceiling, comprising a light fabric membrane for the incorporation of a bespoke lighting system and other decorative elements. This rare, decorative feature required the design and manufacture of a complex trim solution that was robust enough to hold the ceiling in place whilst complementing its aesthetic impact. QIC’s bespoke ceiling trims were ideal for each requirement.
QIC Trims’ Sales and Marketing Director, Neil Miller, said: “This was a very unusual project due to the bespoke nature of the ceiling design. Stretched fabric ceilings are quite rare and there are only a handful of companies throughout the world which manufacture them. Compared to traditional systems, stretched ceilings and walls can be adapted to create an entirely unique interior space, which was certainly the case with the LSE Centre Building. The stretched, red-tinged ceilings QIC’s metal perimeters helped create add a spectacularly stylish aesthetic to stairwells throughout the building, making inspirational use of what otherwise be described as ‘dead space’.
At its 36,000ft2 plant in Buckinghamshire, QIC Trims manufactured an estimated 200 metres of metal ceiling trim for the LSE project. The bespoke perimeter, which took three weeks to produce, was fabricated and folded in accordance with the architect’s design. Upon its transportation to site, the trim was installed to form a smart, uniform surround for six stretch ceilings located in atrium areas adjacent to stairwells within the Centre Building.
Not only did QIC’s ceiling trim need to comply with the ceilings’ precise measurements and fit to tight tolerances, it had to be adaptable enough to incorporate miscellaneous decorative items to enhance the interiors’ inspirational theme. This was achieved during installation, with BDL’s team welding a series of angles and sections onto the metal perimeter. For this action to be carried out successfully, it was vital the metal trim matched the required design requirements. This was achieved thanks to QIC Trims’ superb attention to detail throughout all stages of the trims’ production process.
Neil Miller continued: “The metal ceiling trim we produced was extremely bespoke and very challenging for our design and manufacturing teams. But the excellent working relationship we’ve fostered and continue to enjoy with BDL ensured that from drawing stage to production, the project’s delivery was completed to all parties’ satisfaction. The ceiling trims we provided are a perfect accompaniment for the Building Centre’s stretch ceilings, which look spectacular in-situ. We are extremely proud to have been selected by BDL to contribute to this high-profile and very rewarding project.”
Completed in time for the 2019 summer term, the Centre Building overlooks a public square at the heart of the LSE Campus. This additional design feature fulfilled the architect’s aim of creating a new focal point and improving connectivity and wayfinding throughout the site. The building has won a number of industry plaudits. In 2020 it was declared winner of the Social Infrastructure Project of the Year at the British Construction Industry Awards (BCIA). It also earned BREEAM’s ‘Public Sector Project – Post Construction Award’, whilst in 2021 it was named the Civic Trust Award winner.
The Centre Building’s innovative and inspirational spaces – which QIC Trims’ ceiling trims played a part in creating – will be crucial to attracting the very best staff, academics and students from around the world, and upholding its reputation as an elite centre of academic excellence.