Building control go the extra mile – up Snowdon! by etssetcf


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       Building control go the
       extra mile – up Snowdon!
       To construct a new visitor centre on a level site with good access is a challenge. To
       construct one at 3,560 feet, on a confined site, in extreme weather conditions, with
       material being conveyed to site on a five mile long rack and pinion railway built
       originally in 1896, is almost inconceivable... but a new visitor centre at the top of Mount
       Snowdon, Snowdonia is now complete

                 he first phase of the   were replicated to ensure the    “MANY TESTS WERE              Work on the summit

                 project, which          weather resistance of the                                   commenced in the spring of
                 included the erection   structure.                                                  2007, with Gwynedd Council
                 of the large framed        Once all tests and building   INCLUDING A SEVERE         Building Control working
                 structure and its       methods were agreed and          WEATHER TEST               closely with the contractor,
                 envelope, was built     completed, the structure was     WHERE CONDITIONS           architect and representatives
       60 miles from site, within a      then carefully dismantled and                               from Snowdonia National Park
                                                                          AT THE TOP OF THE
       large building at the Corus       transported 60 miles by road                                Authority.
       Steel Plant at Deeside.           to the foot of the mountain at   MOUNTAIN WERE                 It was evident at this stage
          During this time, regular      Llanberis.                       REPLICATED TO              that it was going to be
       meetings took place with             During the spring of 2006,    ENSURE THE WEATHER         immensely difficult to construct
       Flintshire and Gwynedd            work had commenced on the                                   in such severe weather
       Council Building Control with     demolition of the original
                                                                          RESISTANCE OF THE          conditions, an issue
       regard to design issues and       structure at the summit, and     STRUCTURE”                 compounded by the
       conformity with the               also the construction of a                                  transportation of materials –
       regulations.                      bailey bridge at the compound                               five miles up a mountain on a
          Many tests were                in Llanberis to facilitate the                              train travelling at a speed of
       undertaken, including a severe    loading of material onto the                                five miles per hour.
       weather test where conditions     mountain railway flatbed                                       Over the next 18 months,
       at the top of the mountain        carriage.                                                   the contractor ensured that bi-
                                                                                                     weekly meetings took place
                                                                                                     between building control and
                                                                                                     all other parties. This was to
                                                                                                     ensure that any Building
                                                                                                     Regulation issues, or
                                                                                                     construction difficulties, were
                                                                                                     resolved at an early stage to
                                                                                                     ease construction planning
                                                                                                     issues or downtime.
                                                                                                        The design of the building is
                                                                                                     unique. Bespoke precast
                                                                                                     foundation units were used to
                                                                                                     decrease construction time,
                                                                                                     and reduce the use of in situ
                                                                                                     concrete due to the
                                                                                                     transportation difficulties. Due

       4 | summer 2009 |
to the weather conditions and     was essential due to the          “THE CONTRACTOR       large tanks, and re-used to
wind loadings at the summit,      deteriorating weather, and the                          limit the amount of water which
                                                                    WORKED DILIGENTLY
the steelwork frame bracing       building site being                                     has to be carried up on the
were positioned to be as          inaccessible.                     IN WEATHER            mountain railway train. Window
orthogonal as possible, and          The site closed down in        CONDITIONS WHERE      shutters have been placed on
the connections providing         November 2007 due to heavy        WIND SPEEDS           all windows to reduce light
sufficient stiffness to allow a   snow and strong winds, and                              pollution.
                                                                    REACHED GUSTS OF
partially constructed building    did not re-open until mid-                                 Work was completed in
to stand up under full loading,   March 2008 – snow was still       120MPH AT TIMES,      October 2008, with the
without the need for              visible on site on the second     WITH FREEZING RAIN    building opening to the public
temporary support. Stainless      week in May.                      AND SNOW FOR          in April 2009. The project has
steel columns have been              2008 saw the fitting out of                          been a total success and
placed to support the large       the building with mechanical
                                                                    MANY MONTHS OF        particularly the partnership
glazed viewing area area,         and electrical work. The          THE YEAR”             working between the
providing a dual function of      electricity is being generated                          contractor Carillion, Gwynedd
aesthetics and durability.        via a combined heat and                                 and Flintshire Councils,
   By autumn 2007, the frame      power unit, from which the                              Snowdonia National Park and
had been erected and the          waste heat will provide heating                         Ray Hall Architects.
external envelope of the          and hot water to the building.                             The contractor worked
building almost complete. This    Rainwater will be stored in                             diligently in weather conditions
                                                                                          where wind speeds reached
                                                                                          gusts of 120mph at times, with
                                                                                          freezing rain and snow for
                                                                                          many months of the year.
                                                                                             Close co-operation, during
                                                                                          design stage and then during
                                                                                          the construction process,
                                                                                          ensured that no time was lost,
                                                                                          and all technical queries were
                                                                                          resolved to the satisfaction of
                                                                                          all parties.

                                                                           | summer 2009 | 5

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