Hotel’s pavilion faithful to past with composite facelift

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A composites-intensive exterior cladding project in the UK, now complete, has transformed the High Bullen Hotel’s former tennis facility into its new Palazzo event pavilion. Officially opened when the hotel hosted the Devon Tourism Awards 2014 on Nov. 19, the building’s exquisite stonework is actually the product of a unique multi-material composite sandwich panel construction process developed by Acell Industries Ltd. (Dublin, Ireland).

To expand the scope of its services, the High Bullen golf and spa hotel, located on a former country estate in Devonshire in the southwest of England, wanted to convert its little-used tennis site into a flexible space for weddings and meetings. Local authorities, however, insisted on a renovation consistent with the shire’s traditional architecture. Facing the enormous expense necessary to incorporate into the pavilion the authentic 19th-Century “Devon stone” masonry characteristic of the hotel’s stately main building, the hotel’s owner contacted Acell for help with a cost-effective alternative.

Acell’s patented molding technology combines sheet molding compound (SMC) skins and a core of frangible yet fire-resistant mineral foam in a low-pressure compression molding press. Aluminum molds are custom-cast from fiberglass master models layed up directly on, and pulled from, natural materials. It is thus possible for Acell to replicate virtually any planar architectural design or surface in the mold surface, including not only classical finishes, such as stone, wood and brick, but very contemporary designs as well, says Michael Frieh, Acell’s executive director. Color in the stone surface was duplicated by applying powdered iron oxide and sand grains to the textured composite panels. The result was a match for Devon stone.

Acell also replicated the look of slate in the building’s composite roof sheathing and fabricated the event space’s interior walls and all of the decorative elements, including columns, statuary, and details of its domed ceilings. Walls were made with glass-reinforced gypsum (GRG, foam-cored gypsum board). Frieh says the rehabilitation project was completed in only six months. No surprise, then, that at the Palazzo’s gala opening event, the High Bullen Hotel was presented with the Golden Award for “Large Hotel of the Year,” sponsored by UK-based Hotel Perfect, a hotel management software company.


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