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Article Date: 14th September 2016

Wienerberger‘s Porotherm System used on Blackburn Cathedral Clergy Court Project

Blackburn Cathedral Clergy Court - Clay Block Walling System

Wienerberger Blackburn Cathedral Clergy Court

The construction of Blackburn Cathedral Clergy Court, which commenced in April 2014 was the first Clergy Court and Cloister Garth to be constructed in the past 600 years, making it a truly momentous project. Comprising of an entire new building, which includes a library, refectory, conference room, hospitality suite, offices, an enclosed Cloister Garth and residence, the development of the Grade II listed building showcases its importance as an ecclesiastical building which has grown in stages. As a result, it was of major importance that the design and selection of materials for the project retained these vital principles.

As part of the project, Wienerberger provided 1,450 square meters of its clay block walling system, Porotherm, along with 136 bags of ZeroPlus mortar, with primary concern on the project centring on the minimisation of wastage, along with ensuring that all materials used on the build complemented each other. The benefits in using Porotherm, which boasts an extremely quick speed of build in comparison to more traditional methods of construction, could be seen in the construction of the Dandy Walk elevation stage of the project. For this stage, contractors on site were under pressure to complete the work in order to allow public highway works to be undertaken – something which would not have been achieved within the time frame associated with traditional build methods.

Wienerberger Blackburn Cathedral Clergy CourtThe main concern upon specifying Porotherm for the project centred on how the product would bond with the large Ashlar and stone constructions on site, meaning that there was a need to balance both new and established construction methods. However, upon commencing construction using the Porotherm system, the potential of the product could truly be seen, as the product was quickly recognised as being far more versatile than initially envisaged.

Chris Murphy’s initial concern was how Porotherm would bond in with the large Ashlar units as well as marrying new building techniques with established traditional methods. However as soon as the Porotherm construction started its potential was soon recognised with it being a lot more versatile than initially envisaged. The engineered dimensions of Porotherm was particularly evident when applying the Baumit MP69 render base coat and from an aesthetic point of view the ability to only provide movement joints at 20m centres worked extremely well with the render finish.

The success of the project was in part attributed to the support and guidance provided by Wienerberger’s Porotherm Technical team – not only at the outset of the work on Blackburn Cathedral, but throughout the entire build process. This relationship was bolstered further by the fact that all customer service throughout the work was provided to an excellent level, with all deliveries made on time. Due to Porotherm’s strength and thermal performance, one block type suited all requirements, something that helped throughout the project due to storage space constraints on site.

Wienerberger Blackburn Cathedral Clergy CourtLambert Walker, who were using Porotherm for the first time, were also pleased with the product and immediately identified its potential as the elevations mainly constructed out of Porotherm block were constructed extremely fast due to ease of application, the quick setting properties of the mortar and no limitation to build height on each lift. It was also commented that “the build process was a lot cleaner process than usual with no usual mortar droppings” They were also pleased with the ability to use one-handed lifts on the blocks and load scaffold out more than that allowed using traditional concrete blocks.

Canon Andrew Hindley, the client for the project, commented:
"When Porotherm was specified by our architect, he assured us that this modern building material would work well with the Grade II building the new structure would join onto. It has proven itself very well indeed and has enabled not only a speedier build, but it also interlocks brilliantly with the historic fabric of the Cathedral."

Chris Murphy, Project Manager for John Turner Construction, added:
"Given my experience of using Porotherm on this very challenging build, I would have no doubts in using it in future projects for John Turner."

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