British technical expertise is being taken to ‘world class’ levels with the construction of a cutting-edge learning environment in Cumbria. The cutting-edge approach extends through to the top of the building, where contractor Cumbrian Roofing Solutions Ltd has used a unique solution to completely refurbish the 6500m2 roof: Protan’s prefabricated system.

Client Gen2 has commissioned Thomas Armstrong to convert a former textile factory into its new £4.2million training facility in Lillyhall, as a design and build contract. Due to open in September, the building will provide education for up to 500 students in energy, engineering and technical skills, utilising 3000m2 of “cutting edge” engineering training workshops. Gen2, which is an OFSTED ‘outstanding’ rated training provider, says the expertise is required to meet the skills demand to support large scale industrial projects, such as the new nuclear power station planned for Moorside, Cumbria. Once complete, the facility is expected to be the UK’s largest and most advanced manufacturing training centre, and will also become Gen2’s head office.

Cumbrian Roofing Solutions has been sub-contracted to create the roof, and has used 6500m2 of Protan SE1.2mm polyester reinforced PVC prefabricated membrane in dark grey.

Protan’s prefabricated system involves factory-welding of the membrane in Protan’s purpose-built manufacturing plant, with Protan’s in-house Proplan software calculating the most efficient usage of material to minimise waste. On site, all the contractor has to do is fix along the edges and abutments, and detail around penetrations etc. Protan produces a range of factory- formed detailings to further simplify the process.

Studies show that the prefabricated roof membrane can cut site welding by up to 70% on a typical 10000m2 roof, compared to standard 1m wide membrane rolls: equivalent to 7000 linear metres less of on-site welded joints, with associated reduced labour time and cost. It has the added benefit of producing welded seams in a controlled, clean environment.

Yet the Protan prefabricated system is cost-competitive with conventional mechanical fixing of standard overlap single ply roof membrane.

“The roof may be large but is comparatively clean and simple in its design,” explained Cumbrian Roofing’s Darren Brown. “It has a few small penetrations, one large barrel vault which runs almost the whole length of the building, and a couple of drainage valleys. Single ply was specified for the roof. It was therefore logical to take advantage of the benefits of Protan’s prefabricated system: it delivered a cost-effective solution, especially in terms of labour.”

The prefabricated system is one element of Protan’s comprehensive range of single ply roofing solutions, covered at, all designed to protect value for specifier and contractor. Protan is one of Europe’s biggest manufacturers of construction textiles, and operates in 50 countries worldwide. Its UK business delivers a full support service, from NBS specification and in-house CAD design through to technical advice and variable warranty depending on specification from its headquarters and training centre in Warrington.


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BDC 309 : Oct 2023