Abloy UK, Aspex and Johan Doors collaborate to increase campus security

June 22, 2023


The University of St Andrews has been provided with an access control solution for the refurbishment of Younger Hall. It comes following a collaboration between Abloy UK, Aspex and Johan Doors.

Younger Hall is the main venue for graduation ceremonies at the University, located in the centre of St Andrews. It is named after James and Annie Younger, local philanthropists and benefactors of the University.

Security concerns

It was designed by English architect Paul Waterhouse, built in the 1920s, and opened in 1929 by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Its design combines aspects of Neo-Classical and Art Deco styles, and the hall was recently renovated as part of a £12 million project.

In recent years, the University of St Andrews had created a mandatory technical specification for access control and electric locking. It was quickly identified early on that electric magnetic locks and electric strikes were not secure methods of locking, and the Abloy EL560 was introduced to the University, and has been installed ever since.

Abloy EL560 for security

The Abloy EL560 lock is first choice when it comes to single leaf doors, providing reliability, robustness, and security. However, there are many double leaf entrance doors to the University building. As most of these doors are on an escape route, it was clear that the escape facilities needed to be considered, so panic bars were also introduced.

The Younger Hall project had several requirements, including matching the existing traditional doors with both non-fire and fire rated doors, along with compliant access control ironmongery.

The specification was challenging, as what might work from an ironmongery perspective and user functionality may not offer the best lifespan of the doors. Due to the historic nature and design of the building, the University was not able to use the standard Abloy EL560 locks normally specified on campus for the external doors.

No standard size

The quality and design of the internal doors was to a very high standard, creating a challenge to install the cabling required for electric locks. There was also the added pressure that the heritage aesthetic needed to be retained, and there was no standard size of any internal or external door.

The external double leaf doors presented the most difficult part of the project, as they were extremely narrow, and the alternative options considered would not work on this particular application.

New motor lock and panel bolt

Aspex worked closely with Johan Doors and Abloy to offer compliant installation on double doors that had a narrow leaf, Abloy proposed the PE590 motor lock with a PBE002 panic bolt.

This configuration allows for the panic bar to be cut to suit the doors’ reduced width, providing a compliant and safe solution for these doors.

The correct specification and finish

Most of the doors in Younger Hall had been in place since the 1920’s, and one side of the building was more exposed to sunlight. This had caused the doors on this side to drastically fade more than the other side, and the doors which sat centrally were a darker tone.

The ironmongery specified also needed to meet current building regulations and practicality for everyday use, while considering the heritage surroundings and volume of people visiting the building.

To get the correct finish, Johan Doors used solid walnut, and after several samples they found a stain to use on certain locations along with frames and detailed architrave. Johan Doors prepared the doors and supplied Abloy compliant satin brass levers to complement the walnut door finish, which were installed by Aspex along with the compliant Abloy locks.

A heritage project

As a heritage project, the doors had to blend with the existing appearance of the environment. The design had to be carefully considered to also allow for the positioning of panic bars or electric locks while mirroring the doors already in place, without compromising safety considerations in terms of mounting heights and operation.

Doors requiring electric locking had to be manufactured to allow for electrical wiring from the Abloy lockcase through the centre of the door, into the concealed door loop and through the frame.

Although this is quite simple on a flush door, on a solid mortice and tenon door with joints and panels, quite a lot of detail and drawing is required ahead of manufacturing to ensure the longevity of the doorsets.

Working collaboratively

Louie Woodland, Director at Johan Doors Ltd, explained: “We all wanted to give the best result for the contractor and end client, so being open minded was essential to working collaboratively, and pulling together to ask, ‘how do we get this done?’

“We have had great feedback from the Estates Project Manager in charge of the Younger Hall redevelopment. It’s a beautiful traditional building, and yet the heritage doors with modern technology does not look out of place. The need for heritage doors combined with technology has never been greater, so hopefully we can work with Aspex and Abloy again on similar projects in the future.”

Tailored locks

Alan Thomson, Installation Manager at Aspex UK, added: “Aspex has been installing access control for the University of St Andrews for decades, and in that time the company has become adept at understanding what type of locks are tailored for each individual building.

“As Aspex currently has the maintenance contract for the access control and have had since 2007, we can categorially state that the Abloy products are by far the most versatile and the most reliable locks on the market. Working with Johan Doors on the Younger Hall project has been a great success which we hope to repeat.”

Rory Grant, Regional Specification Manager at Abloy UK, said: “Between the three companies and our extensive knowledge and experience, we were able to communicate and work out the best possible result. It gives us great pride to have been involved in this project, which can be seen every time you drive past the main entrance of Younger Hall.”

Detailed ironmongery

Pauline Brown, Associate Chief Information Officer, University of St Andrews, commented: “The refurbishment of the impressive Younger Hall was no ordinary capital project for the University. Maintaining the integrity and historic nature of the building were critical, right down to the detail of the ironmongery.

“We’re so grateful to Aspex, Abloy UK and Johan Doors for working together to find appropriate solutions that continued to meet our requirements.”

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