A Radiant Image for Croydon

JUNE 2017

The bold and colourful image transcribed on the surface of this sleek tower is a pixelated crocus, chosen to reflect the origins of the town and accomplished with a hi-tech design process. During Roman times, the area was a valley of crocus’s which were harvested for their saffron, they gave the town its name.

Currently the tallest building in central Croydon, the Saffron Tower injects colour and life into the surrounding streets. It is the centrepiece of Saffron Square, a development of nearly 800 homes, commercial space and new public realm, which forms part of the councils Vision 2020 for the town.

The crocus image was pixelated and transcribed onto the façade

There were challenges to achieving both the pure colour of the finish and the quality required for such a large expanse of glass. We were not daunted by the lack of precedent for this type of façade, and set out with help and support from the whole team to deliver the design to its original intent.

“The challenge faced by the cladding contractor was to deliver the 17 subtly different but unique colour variations to create the crocus image. The focus and attention to detail required to deliver this vision required considerable effort from client, architect and contractor working together as a team, all willing to put in the extra effort to achieve this stunning effect.”
David Farrell, Senior Technical Manager, Berkeley Homes

The design required a flat and modular arrangement with pure vibrant colour in specific positions; realising the design required a combination of both artistic and technical skills.

The pixilation concept in one sense, lent itself to the modular façade of a tower but the arrangement was not straightforward. The panels are placed to avoid doors and windows, they are opaque and each is a full storey height. They were also of course placed to form the image.

Fritted glass was fitted into the framing system

To apply the colours the glass is fritted; a ceramic component is printed onto the inside surface. The iron content of the glass affects the colour. To achieve the purest form of the colour, it was necessary to use a more expensive low-iron glass.

“Remaining faithful to the original design concept throughout the detail design and delivery process has enabled completion of a development that enhances Croydon’s identity and fulfils the client’s expectations”.
Rupert Anderson, Associate, Rolfe Judd

Through a detailed samples approval system, the colours were refined and the manufacturing process arrived at. To achieve the right result, the glass and aluminium framing elements were produced by different contractors. The high-performance framing system chosen is just 180 mm deep.

The finished result is a radiant façade, an image that proclaims Croydon’s aspirations for the future on a soaring landmark tower that shines.

Saffron Square Tower is currently the tallest building in central Croydon