Aluminium windows installed in the “New University Library” at Oxford University nearly 70 years ago are highlighting aluminium’s extraordinary long service life. The building designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and built between 1937 and 1939 was a much needed addition to the Bodleian Library whose collections are used by scholars from around the world.
Toby Kirtley who is the Estates Projects Officer for the Oxford University Library Services comments, “We are amazed at the quality of these windows which have been in the building almost 70 years. We undertake cleaning twice a year and only service any of the windows should a piece of glass be broken and need replacing. The hardware is all original and has been designed with brass bushes for a good life expectancy - I wonder if the builder and architect thought that the windows would still be performing this well after 70 years?” The aluminium casement windows and window furniture were supplied by James Gibbons Limited of Wolverhampton whose history can be traced back over 300 years.
The New University Library was commandeered by Navy Intelligence shortly after completion and much of the D-Day photography was processed and reviewed in the building. The building also became a repository of all the work being carried out at the time in WW2 code-breaking. In 1946 the building was eventually handed back to the University and was opened by H.M. King George VI, on October 24th. Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect, is also remembered for his design of the Battersea Power Station and the famous British red K2 telephone box amongst many other British landmarks.
The Council for Aluminium in Building as a trade association has seen a strong resurgence in the use of aluminium in building over the last couple of years notably in external envelope products such as fenestration, roofing and cladding. There are many examples of buildings in the UK that carry aluminium products in their construction. Not only do these products stand the test of time and offer excellent performance over their useful life, when they are removed the aluminium has a value and is almost 100% recyclable with the minimum of energy input. Aluminium is therefore one of the most sustainable products we can use in construction today.
Further information about membership is available from the CAB offices by contacting Julie Harley on 01453 828851 or by visiting the website at www.c-a-b.org.uk