Decomo misses the party by odq14517


                                            Newsletter of the Architectural Cladding Association
                                                                                    Winter 2008

Decomo misses the party
         dinburgh in late July and early August was in party spirit with the renowned annual         ultimate benefits gained by – involving and
         Festival in full swing. Not so for Decomo, however, as its specific instructions/aim        appointing specialist subcontractors/suppliers
         had been to avoid the festivities at all cost.                                              at an early stage. This could even be before
                                                                                                     the main contract is awarded.

This, of course, actually refers to their work   To some, this might not seem much of a              Edinburgh-based Cre-8 Architecture, working
on the Bovis Lend Lease project, for Scottish    challenge though it is probably the biggest         with Arup Façade Engineering, had produced
Widows, at Edinburgh’s Exchange Place,           challenge of all and one that has frustrated        the design intent for the Exchange Place
where it was vital that the site tower cranes    members of the ACA and the architectural            project. The stone selected for the panels
were dismantled and removed ahead of the         precast concrete industry for many years. It is     was Warthauer sandstone, quarried in Poland
festival. This meant that Decomo had to ensure   all too commonplace for the complexity and          and cut in Kirchheim, Germany by Zeidler
that some 230 stone-faced and architectural      amount of work/time involved, particularly in       and Wimmel from where it was collected by
concrete cladding panels, to two separate        the design stage of a package, not to be fully      Decomo and taken to its production facility
buildings, would be installed within a year      appreciated and so project programmes often         in Belgium.
of the award of the subcontract for the full     fail to allow enough lead-in times for specialist
design, manufacture and installation package     works. The ‘challenge’ has been, and remains,
for these panels.                                to convince all parties of the need for – and                                continued on page 2

                                                                                                                                        page 1
                                                                                                           continued from front page

                                                                                                           At the time of Decomo’s appointment, the
                                                                                                           design and fabrication of the primary steelwork
                                                                                                           was well advanced, and there was little
                                                                                                           opportunity to incorporate builders’ work
                                                                                                           details within this. Predominantly, two types
                                                                                                           of fixing system were adopted at steel column
                                                                                                           locations. Lindapter fixings were used to avoid
                                                                                                           the need for much drilling of holes to the
                                                                                                           columns along with Halfen ‘Hanger’ system.
                                                                                                           Where load-bearing connections were needed,
                                                                                                           these were specifically designed to transfer the
                                                                                                           loads back to the primary frame, thus mitigating
                                                                                                           the need for and cost of much additional
                                                                                                           secondary steelwork. These fixings were within
                                                                                                           floor voids and cavities so as not to intrude
                                                                                                           upon the lettable floor area.

St David’s, a capital
                                                                                                           Panel installation began in May and was completed
                                                                                                           in time for the tower cranes to be dismantled and
                                                                                                           removed as planned. Panels were delivered to
                                                                                                           site via the ports of Rosyth and Immingham with
                                                                                                           insulation already fixed. The choice of port was

                                                                                                           dictated by the height of some of the panels and
                                                                                                           the restrictions in place. The maximum height
                                                                                                           of any individual load was 4.37m.

                                                                                                           Once on site, the panels were installed by
         isitors to the heart of Wales’s                                                                   two erection crews, working concurrently but
         capital will be impressed by the                                                                  independently of each other, on the two buildings.
         overall scale and rate of progress                                                                Owing to weight or access restrictions, mobile
         being achieved on the St David’s                                                                  cranes were needed to install certain units: the
development.                                                                                               heaviest panels weighed up to 16.5 tonnes and
                                                                                                           were beyond the capacity of the tower cranes.
Due for completion in 2009, St David’s is a                                                                This work was often required at weekends and
£675m joint-investment, by Land Securities and                                                             road closures had to be organised.
Capital Shopping Centres, in the future of the
city as a leading national and international centre.                                                       Access for setting out and installation works
Being constructed in two concurrent phases,                                                                was by means of MEWPs externally and mobile
St David’s 1 focuses on the modernisation of                                                               access towers and an electric ‘pop-up’ machine
the existing St David’s Shopping Centre whilst                                                             internally. This avoided the need for a full
St David’s 2 is a retail-led mixed-use project                                                             access scaffold.
that includes new stores and luxury residential
apartments. The topping out ceremony of St             units 8m wide and weighing up to 10 tonnes          Probably one of the most difficult areas of
David’s 1 took place on 2 October.                     each. The units are being cast at Marble            installation and certainly the one requiring the
                                                       Mosaic’s factory in north Somerset using            greatest level of coordination, on site, with
Involving architects of the respected calibre of       50mm thick facings of Warthauer sandstone,          another trade was the ‘picture frame’ to the
Benoys, Glenn Howells and Chapman Taylor,              supplied as dimensioned and finished facings by     Fountainbridge elevation. With the exception
the development is being constructed by Bovis          Zeidler & Wimmel in stones that are typically       of those to the bottom of the frame, all panels
Lend Lease with its various specialist trade           450mmx1250mm, generally with a 150mm                were installed after the curtain walling: all the
contractors. These include The Marble Mosaic           thick backing of reinforced concrete. Each          bracketry had been installed beforehand as it
Co Ltd who are responsible for the detail              spandrel panel, many of which are curved            passed through the curtain walling and associated
design, manufacture, delivery and installation         on plan, typically includes 40 to 50 individual     EPDMs from an internal to external zone. In
of the sandstone and granite faced precast             stone facings that are each secured to the          this area, the architectural concrete panels are
concrete units that feature in the external            backing concrete by stainless steel dowel pins.     fixed in front of the curtain walling and provide
cladding of various new and refurbished                Before despatching to site, the back of the         an aesthetic feature. They do not form part of
buildings for both phases, in work packages            precast panels is being faced with insulation       the fabric of the building envelope.
totalling some £3m.                                    to enhance their thermal performance. The
                                                       panels, delivered on a just-in-time basis to        Decomo is pleased to have been able to
The typical panelisation of the elevations is          suit site progress, are installed using stainless   continue their association with Bovis Lend
based on pairs of storey-height precast column         steel fixings by teams of specialist erectors       Lease, following the success of a previous
facing units supporting grid-width spandrel            managed by Marble Mosaic.                           project at Coleman St in London.

   page 2
The versatility of architectural
precast concrete cladding
by Stephen Maddalena
chairman Architectural Cladding Association

           rchitectural precast concrete cladding panels are produced in all shapes and
           sizes, colours and textures to fulfil the aspirations, expectations and needs of
           the value-conscious developer, his ambitious architect, his able builder and the
           qualified advisors within his project team.

The ranges of precast cladding finishes and      than 1000 bricks arranged in complex shapes
facings are comprehensive. They include          to include cills, soffits, reveals and coping
etched reconstructed stone and polished          sections.
concrete finishes with chameleon-like
abilities to emulate the appearance of           The applications of architectural precast
natural limestones, sandstones and granites.     cladding are similarly diverse. Whilst historically
Precasting techniques also enable facing         focussed on the commercial office sector,
materials such as natural stone, brick and       examples of their use on recently completed           The use of architectural precast concrete panels
terracotta to be pre-assembled into larger       contracts and major projects currently under          is recognised as being more practical, efficient
building elements. A single precast concrete     construction also include residential, retail         and cost-effective than other traditional forms
panel may, for example, incorporate more         and leisure developments as well as hospitals,        of cladding construction in most sectors of the
than a 100 individual stone facings or more      universities and schools.                             UK building industry.

  In addition to articles on the new office buildings at 1 Coleman Street and 198-202                  But what other reasons are there for the
  Piccadilly in London, recent editions of Facade have described the residential developments          increasing demand for architectural precast
  at Masshouse in Birmingham, at the Beetham Tower in Manchester, Clarence Dock in                     concrete cladding?
  Leeds and at Imperial Wharf and Metro Central in London. The applications of precast
  cladding in the retail sector have similarly been covered at Barton Square in Manchester,            One answer lies in the properties of high quality
  Highcross in Leicester and The Grand Arcade in Cambridge. They have also instanced the               precast concrete. Produced in accordance with
  Centre for Contemporary Arts in Nottingham, the Humanities Building for the University               BS 8297:2000, precast concrete is a robust
  of Manchester and even a railway station at Wembley Park. Future editions of Facade are              and durable cladding material that is inherently
  planned to cover the continuing progress of the St George Wharf residential development              capable of lasting much longer that the usual
  in London and the major retail schemes in Bristol and Bath as well as office developments            60-year design life requirement for most new
  for both the private and public sectors elsewhere in the UK.                                         buildings and, perhaps as importantly, without
                                                                                                       the need for frequent maintenance. It is also
                                                                                                       inherently a sound insulator, non-combustible
                                                                                                       and fire-resistant. Dense concrete is air- and
                                                                                                       watertight, providing superior weathering
                                                                                                       performance and corrosion resistance.
                                                                                                       Insulation can be incorporated either as a
                                                                                                       lining to the internal face of a panel or as a core
                                                                                                       between two concrete layers, readily achieving
                                                                                                       U-values of 0.30W/m2K and better. Moreover,
                                                                                                       the thermal mass of concrete serves to reduce
                                                                                                       peak heating and cooling loads.

                                                                                                       A second answer follows the point that the
                                                                                                       comprehensive service provided by the specialist
                                                                                                       producers of architectural precast cladding, such
                                                                                                       as the members of the Architectural Cladding
                                                                                                       Association, typically covers the detail design,
                                                                                                       manufacture, delivery and installation.
One Coleman Street, London

                                                                                                                                              page 3
                                                                                                           construction of the floor slabs can be simplified,
                                                                                                           potentially enabling significant cost and programme
                                                                                                           reductions to be realized.

                                                                                                           The use of large panels also enables the
                                                                                                           structural frame to be safely, efficiently and
                                                                                                           rapidly enclosed. Even with shared-use of the
                                                                                                           main contractors craneage facilities, a 4-man
                                                                                                           team of installers can be expected to fix six to
                                                                                                           eight panels per day, potentially corresponding
                                                                                                           to outputs well in excess of 150m² per day if in
Imperial Wharf, London                                                                                     large storey-height or grid width units.

A third lies in the direct and incidental           are consistently achieved. The completed               There are also financial advantages inherent
advantages of precast cladding construction and     panels are held in designated storage areas            in architectural precast concrete. Off-site
the expertise of these experienced companies        during which time there is the opportunity             prefabrication and increased on-site productivity,
to optimise and realise them for each project’s     for any window apertures within the panels to          especially using the largest units that are practical
overall benefit. These advantages are many          be framed and even glazed before despatch              to deliver and handle, give optimum value.
and varied. In addition to the versatility of its   to site. Deliveries of panels are scheduled on         Similarly, with less dependence on site-based
appearance, precast cladding valuably enhances      a just-in-time basis to suit site progress and to      activities, construction cost is stabilized and
quality and safety, improves efficiency and         avoid any need for their double-handling or            construction time shortened, so reducing
productivity, and facilitates programme and         temporary storage at site.                             financing costs. The rider, of course, is that
price certainty.                                                                                           these many advantages can be attained only by
                                                    The economics of precast cladding construction         early involvement of the specialist precaster.
Architectural precast concrete panels are           favour the use of as large a panel that firstly
produced off-site in purpose built and equipped     can efficiently be transported by road to site,        Precast concrete cladding also scores well in
factories by established workforces of skilled      bearing in mind clearance under bridges, and           terms of sustainability. Its production creates
operatives. In addition to the workshops            secondly can practically be handled at site by         negligible waste with just enough concrete
in which the panels are cast, production            the available craneage facilities.                     being batched to fill available moulds at the
resources include facilities for the manufacture                                                           factory and the materials used in the moulds
and adaption of moulds, for the fabrication of      Large panels are typically designed as storey-height   subsequently being re-cycled. The curing
steel reinforcement cages and for the batching      units spanning between floor slabs or as grid width    of concrete is an exothermic reaction and
and mixing of special concrete mixes, all subject   units set between structural columns so as to avoid    does not therefore require an input of heat
to quality management systems which operate         the need for secondary structure for their support     energy. Moreover, the installation of precast
to ensure that high standards of craftsmanship      and lateral restraint. They are typically supported    cladding panels is particularly efficient and its
                                                    at each floor level, but may be stacked from           environmental impact is therefore minimal. At
                                                    ground level. They are usually fixed by bolting to     the end of the economic life of a building, the
                                                    holes in structural steelwork or to channels cast      precast panels may be refurbished for re-use or
                                                    into a concrete frame. Additionally, the use of        crushed as hardcore. There are also examples
                                                    grid-width panels can reduce mid-span loadings         of precast concrete clad office buildings from
                                                    on the structural slab edge. If considered at a        the 1960s and 70s being simply converted to
                                                    sufficiently early stage in the design process, the    suit prime leisure and residential usage.

Clarence Dock, Leeds                                Beetham Tower, Manchester

                                                                                                                                                    page 4
Echo 24, Sunderland

Spending time in the north east
              ver recent years the north east        The eye catching, curved white precast           In 2007 Trent returned to Newcastle
              of England has become familiar         exterior of Citygate caught the attention of     to work on the Time Central Building,
              territory for Trent Concrete’s         Mario Minchella Architects who specified it      Gallowgate. Just a short sprint from Citygate
              managing director David                for their own £38m new build, Echo 24,           this distinctive seven storey office building
Walker and his team. Said David, “Being              a high-quality apartment development in          features spectacular Stanton Moor stone
Nottingham based we are ideally situated to          Sunderland.                                      faced cladding that provides it with a lasting
meet opportunities anywhere in the UK but                                                             appearance that epitomises the modern
since the Citygate Development in Newcastle          It wasn’t just aesthetic beauty the architects   urban environment being created in the
some seven years ago we have been involved           wanted to achieve for this landmark building,    city.
in a number of prestigious projects in that          given the city centre location, they required
region. In fact Citygate followed our work           speed of installation, acoustic insulation       It was essential that the cladding embodied
on the Quayside development in the city.”            and durability. Mario Minchella explained:       the city’s contemporary environment and
                                                     “When we saw the product on Citygate we          complemented Lister Architects’ bold design.
In 2003 Trent announced a £1.32m follow on           knew it would offer good acoustic properties     To meet this brief 1,500m² of Stanton Moor
cladding contract for an extension to the Citygate   because it was on a busy road. Therefore, it     stone faced cladding, divided across 217
Development on St James Boulevard opposite           had the density required by us for Echo 24.      individual panels, was produced. All finished
Newcastle United’s stadium. The company              It had also weathered well and maintained        products arrived on a just in time basis, where
manufactured 5300m² of acid-etched white             the right, clean appearance.”                    they were lifted off the trailer using site cranes
reconstructed stone to match the first phase.                                                         and fixed directly to the structure, with no
The 470 panels form a spandrel and mullion           Widely recognised as the north east’s            additional plant, equipment or scaffolding
combination to glazed areas and incorporate          premier development, Echo 24 has been            requirements.
large flat panels to flank and gable sections. In    key to the regeneration of Sunderland’s river
addition 650m² of low-level plinths in a shallow-    quarter. Dominating the skyline, it houses       Concluded David Walker, “We are delighted
etched grey mix incorporating mica sand for          residents’ parking, two commercial units         regional architects recognise the quality of
extra sparkle, and feature panels in a black mix     and 179 luxury apartments over eleven            our work. It is a testament to architectural
to match the glazing panels were produced.           floors.                                          precast concrete.”

                                                                                                                                            page 5
Going higher and higher
             ue for completion in 2009 Ballymore
             Properties’ development, Pan
             Peninsular, can claim to be, at
             least for the present, the tallest
residential project in Britain. The two blocks of
40 and 50 storeys, the latter being 153 metres
high, tower above South Quay Tube Station in
Canary Wharf and its neighbouring structures.
The two buildings, consisting of 700 luxury
apartments, are linked by an impressive 7-storey
landscaped podium incorporating retail units and
a variety of leisure facilities. The top floor of
the 50-storey tower will include a cocktail bar
offering spectacular views across London.

Reflecting the high quality internal finishes the
façade features alternating vertical planes of precast
concrete panels and curtain walling with glass
fronted balconies punctuating the elevations.

Following early consultation with the architects,
SOM, precaster Techrete was commissioned to
manufacture, supply and fix the precast cladding
for the scheme. This entailed casting approximately
1,900 panels, most of which were 6.5m high and
weighing 10 tonnes, using a white dolomite facing
mix with an etched finish giving a very white overall
effect. Manufactured at Techrete’s UK factory at
Brigg, the various panel sizes were achieved with
moveable steel magnetic side formers to the
casting tables, minimising the use of timber and
other consumables.

The double storey height units were fixed to the
concrete frame with stainless steel support corbels,
with stainless steel and galvanised restraint bracketry
attached to channels cast into the frame.

Commented David Kennell of Techrete, “Close
cooperation and early involvement with the client
and the design team resulted in a rapid enclosure
enabling follow on trades early access. The external
cladding for the towers is another example of
concrete’s versatility and aesthetic appeal.”

    Architectural Cladding Association         60 Charles Street, Leicester LE1 1FB.
    Tel: 0116 253 6161 Fax: 0116 251 4568      Website:

                                                                                                                                   A product association of British Precast
    Member Companies                                                              The Marble Mosaic Company Ltd
                                                                                  Winterstoke Road
    Decomo UK Ltd, 180-186 Kings Cross Road, London, WC1X 9DE.                    Weston-super-Mare, BS23 3YE.
    Tel: 0207 689 8058 Contact: Paul Desmet.                        Tel: 01934 419941 Contact: Stephen Maddalena.
    Techrete (UK) Ltd, Warren Court, Feldspar Close, Warren Park Way,             Trent Concrete Ltd, Colwick, Nottingham, NG4 2BG.
    Enderby, Leics, LE4 5SD.                                                      Tel: 0115 987 9747 Contact: David Walker.
    Tel: 0116 275 0785 Contact: David Kennell.

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