Case Study

Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham

Siniat delivers technical support and effective solutions for state-of-the-art hospital facility

Project: Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham
Brand: Siniat
Installations and Systems: Etex Thruwall® System, Siniat Weather Defence™, GTEC Universal Board, GTEC dB Board, GTEC metals
Client: University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
Architect: The Design Buro
Contractor: Kier
Sub contractor: CG Reynolds

Project Overview

A strong supply chain and exceptional technical and on-site support provided by Etex’s drywall specialist brand, Siniat, ensured procurement and programme deadlines could be met during COVID lockdown for the delivery of a new Ambulatory Care and Diagnostics Centre (ACAD) in Birmingham.

The £91.7m ACAD facility was procured for Heartlands Hospital through the Government’s P22 framework by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust to replace the original outdated facility and services. The new centre, which is due to open in 2022, will care for over half a million patients per year and will provide a state-of-the-art facility that will benefit the growing and changing needs of patients, staff and local communities.

The brand new facility will cover a footprint of approximately16,000m2 over four floors, each around 3,600m2 – roughly half the size of Wembley’s football pitch. Once completed the centre will provide 120 consultation rooms, 26 specialist audiology and ear, nose and throat rooms, ultrasound and X-ray rooms, as well as CT and MRI scanners.

Design and specification:

Siniat was already included on the procure 22 framework agreement, however, this was the first large commercial project that the company had done with Kier in the region. The architect had originally specified Siniat systems for just three wall types in the ACAD, but during the build it became clear the requirement for drywall, passive fire and external protection was far greater than the original design. Working closely together, Kier and Siniat identified a further eight wall types that needed to be included in the specification.

This resulted in a combination of Siniat’s products being specified, including its Thruwall® System which combines a combination of Weather Defence™ external sheathing, GTEC Universal Board and GTEC dB Board for superior fire resistance, weathering, airtightness and sound insulation.

The benefit of specifying Thruwall® for the project was that it combines the three key elements of a building’s envelope; a non-loading steel frame, external sheathing and internal wall lining, in a fully tested, performance warranted system. This also overcame the problems of Kier having to work with different suppliers and being reliant on various supply chains in the middle of a pandemic.

Weather Defence™ external sheathing provides a faster way to weather tight structures compared to traditional sheathing boards. This meant the ACAD was protected from the elements and allowed internal trades to start work before the façade was fully complete.

GTEC Universal Board and GTEC dB Board were specified for the internal walls and partitions as they both provide superior acoustic and fire resistance (reaction to fire: Euroclass A2-s1,d0), both important elements for a busy healthcare environment. GTEC dB Board is stronger, harder and heavier than standard plasterboard, making it ideal for areas where sound insulation is critical as it can cut noise up to 45 Rw dB – the level of a loud conversation. Single layer 15mm Universal Board partitions achieve Severe Duty to BS5234, so provide a superior level of durability that is suitable for high traffic areas.

Siniat was able to overcome several design challenges that arose during the project, such as addressing the requirement for the partition walls around the X-ray units to be lead lined. Although lead is not traditionally part of Siniat’s systems, the company was able to come up with a technical solution to incorporate lead in the partition which was crucial to the project in order to protect staff and patients from radiation.

The project’s most challenging problem was presented by the number of building services that would be going through the ACAD Centre’s walls. Hospitals are complex environments and require a large amount of ducting, pipework and cabling to run through the walls. This is more than those of a standard build which normally means more gaps in the walls, which can cause challenges as if these are not sealed properly – meaning they could enable smoke and flames to spread rapidly in the event of a fire. The Siniat range of boards are more flexible than other similar products on the market which meant they were able to deal with the aperture openings. As a result, Siniat was able to offer an effective solution that worked around the services and ensured all requirements such as fire stopping were adhered to.


The materials shortages as a result of lockdown were understandably a key concern for Kier. However, Siniat was able to ensure this did not impact the project through its strong supply chain partnerships. The company liaised throughout with its local distributor in Birmingham to ensure material procurement and programme dates could be met. This constant supply of materials ensured that there were no site issues and minimal delays to the construction of the ACAD.

Despite the potential challenges presented by the complex design, the install was completed successfully due to the excellent design and specification support provided by Siniat. During the install, Siniat worked closely with the project’s M&E companies and subcontractor, CG Reynolds, to ensure the 480 service openings and subsequent fire stopping details were acceptable. Siniat has the largest tested aperture opening for partitions on the market. These larger letterbox openings meant that the M&E contractor could put all the required services above the double doors and then fire stop the opening, as opposed to fire stopping several smaller holes in each wall area.

Following the introduction of an industry best practice guide covering the installation of services penetrations through fire compartment walls and floors in new buildings in 2020, CG Reynolds had to amend its original installation plans for the project. Due to this, the team at Siniat conducted site visits to offer technical support, including providing guidelines on how to achieve larger letterbox openings as well as answering any subsequent on-site questions.

Final Results:

The pandemic has emphasised the importance of modern healthcare facilities, such as the new ACAD centre, for local communities. Through its strong supply chain, Siniat was able to ensure the supply of its products during a global pandemic and the subsequent national and localised lockdowns, which enabled the project to remain on track.

In addition to a continual supply chain and strong relationships across parties, Siniat’s technical and design expertise, coupled with the outstanding properties of its products, proved invaluable to the success of the project. This included the design flexibility offered by the Siniat products which allowed for larger letterbox apertures to accommodate the services and for the provision of lead lined partitions.

During the project, Siniat was able to demonstrate to Kier the benefits of its products, in particular its fully tested and warranted Thruwall® System and Weather Defence™ for the external envelope. This ability to offer a comprehensive range of fully tested, documented and warranted products from a single source was a significant benefit to Kier and has led to the company entering into a trade agreement and partnership with Etex Building Performance, Siniat’s parent company.

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