Pendock’s Technical Project Manager, Gavin Byram, discusses how and why the company’s specialist casing and enclosure systems can benefit and improve education projects with Architecture Today’s Technical Editor John Ramshaw.

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Radius circular column casings at West Cheshire College

The long-awaited return to schools and colleges after the last national lockdown was a relief to many pupils and parents. Post-pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on health and safety, as well as the refurbishment of facilities that have been left unattended and unmaintained for months on end. One company that has a long history of working with and supplying solutions to the education sector is casing and enclosure specialist Pendock. Gavin Byram, Technical Project Manager at Pendock, in conversation with Architecture Today’s Technical Editor John Ramshaw, discusses which of the company’s many products and systems are best suited to education environments, what benefits they can bring, how architects can maximise the specification process, and what Pendock can do to ensure projects run smoothly.


Robust HPL Washroom cubicles with matching vanity unit

Which Pendock brands are commonly used on education projects, and what are their main features and benefits?
Our products are predominantly specified on refurbishment and retrofit projects within the education sector, although our column casing and washroom systems also feature on many new-build schemes. We find that specifiers tend to favour four of our six brands: Radius (interior and exterior column casings), Profiles (pipe boxing and services casings), Washroom (toilet cubicles and washroom systems), and SafeHeat (low-surface temperature radiator guards).

Starting with Radius there are huge range of sizes, shapes, materials and finishes to choose from, which makes it possible to find appropriate casing solutions for all internal and external columns. The preformed and prefinished nature of the products not only saves time and cost on site, but also ensures consistently high levels of quality and appearance. Radius column casings can also add functionality to education projects by incorporating seating, lighting, signage, services, and even television screens. On new-build education projects, our column casings provide a cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing alternative to standard steel and concrete sections.

In common with Radius, Pendock’s Profiles brand of service casings is made up of preformed and prefinished products. This eschews the need for in-situ, timber-framed ‘boxing-out’, which is more expensive, can vary considerably in terms of quality and aesthetics, and is generally less easy to access for future maintenance. The brand also includes internal and external corner sections, stop ends, access panels and other accessories, ensuring a fully integrated and functional solution.


Integrated Washroom system at Castleford School in West Yorkshire

Moving onto Washroom, there are an array of cubicle and washroom systems to suit different aesthetic and performance requirements, as well as budgets. Matching vanity units, back panels and accessories are also available for each system, helping to maximise design homogeneity, versatility, and cost-effectiveness. Specialist forming and finishing techniques enable vanity unit tops to be manufactured in one piece, providing added strength and durability. Our laminate-faced Washroom products not only ensure high levels of durability, but also provide specifiers with a wide range of colour options.


SafeHeat Ultima plus LST radiator guard

SafeHeat low surface temperature radiator guards are particularly suited to education refurbishment projects as they can cover all manner of pre-existing heaters. Covering them with a guard creates an ‘insulation space’ around the radiator while still allowing convection, which helps reduce the risk of accidental burn injury. A further option is available within our range that ensures the LST guard’s temperature does not exceed 43 degrees Celsius. Radiused corners are another safety feature, along with the provision of anti-bacterial coatings on all models – a highly desirable feature post-covid.


Oval-shaped Radius column casings at Birmingham Medical School

Which products from the Radius, Profiles, Washroom and SafeHeat brands tend to be specified and why?
With regards to Radius, it is particularly important to specify the right product for the application. External column casings, for example, should be manufactured from aluminium, stainless steel or GRP for reasons of, toughness, durability, and weather-resistance. GRP also provides added versatility when it comes to creating bespoke casing shapes and features. In terms of cost, stainless-steel casings are the most expensive, followed by aluminium and GRP (these two are generally similarly priced) and then Laminate-faced plywood products. The latter are generally chosen for interior applications for reasons of robustness, colour choice, and of course cost effectiveness.

MX pipe boxing is a popular choice within the Profiles brand for its ability to hide unsightly services and pipework, mitigate burn risks, and prevent the build-up of dust and dirt behind water and gas pipes. The standard white-melamine-faced product incorporates radiused edges for safety and comes in two different thicknesses: 5mm and 8mm. The former is the preferred choice for high-level boxing, while the latter, which is more expensive, is better suited to low-level applications, such as corridors, where added protection against kicking and footfall are essential.

MX pipe boxing from Pendock’s Profiles brand at Sevenoaks School in Kent

Some specifiers choose to add a coloured high-pressure laminate (HPL) finish to the boxing for additional toughness and/or to better standout or blend-in with the surroundings. This increases the unit price by around 25 per cent, so laminate-finished boxing tends to be reserved for more important public spaces, such as receptions and meeting areas. It is worth noting that HPL finishes can only be applied to the thicker 8mm boxing.


Washroom cubicles from Pendock’s Education range at Two Rivers Primary School in Tamworth, Staffordshire

Cubicles and vanity units made from high-pressure laminate (HPL) or compact laminate (CL) are generally favoured when it comes to the Washroom brand. Although melamine-faced chipboard (MFC) units, represent the lowest cost option, they are not generally suited to pupil-facing school environments. By contrast, HPL and CL products from the Classic Plus, Robust and Education ranges provide excellent levels of durability, meaning that they do not have to be replaced as often as MFC units. They also provide greater colour choice, are cost-effective and easily replaced if damaged. There is quite a step up in price between HPL and CL, which reflects the latter’s increased weight and longer life-expectancy.


SafeHeat Prima Plus LST radiator guard

Radiator guards from SafeHeat’s Ultima range are commonly specified on education projects for reasons of functionality and cost-effectiveness. Unlike Prima range models, which are also popular, they feature radiused corners for additional safety. As a rule, built-in easy-access panels for daily cleaning are not specified (as they would be on healthcare projects) to minimise cost. Instead, the panels are simply unscrewed from the walls for routine maintenance and cleaning. Overall, SafeHeat radiator guards represent a significant cost-saving on refurbishment projects, compared to replacing existing radiators with low-surface temperature (LST) units.

How does Pendock help architects to make the right choices while adding value to the specification process?
We try to engage with architects early-on in the design process so we can offer expert advice and guidance. Radius, for example, is a design-led brand with a huge array of sizes, shapes, materials and finishes to choose from. To make the specification process easier, Pendock provides access to more than 200 drawings – in both pdf and dwg formats – on its website, as well as downloadable NBS specification clauses.

Pendock also offers site surveys, supply and fit packages, and project management services. The site survey service is particularly useful as it enables Pendock to take full responsibility for the correct sizing and fit of Radius products when they come to site. Pendock’s ability to manufacture in house also means that it can supply bespoke sizes for many of its products. This not only streamlines the design and specification process, but also makes on-site installation quicker and easier.

Contact Details
For more information on Pendock’s products and services please call 01952 580590, email or visit the website.