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June 2012 – Building surety with steel

June 1, 2012 by NSC in Comment
With this month’s issue of NSC you will find a special publication from the BCSA and Tata Steel called The Surest Way is Steel. It details some of the ways in which steel construction is delivering great benefits to clients, designers and the ultimate users of buildings and other structures. Case studies highlight the advantages accruing to projects including residential and commercial buildings when steel is chosen as the framing material; the advantages are many and wide ranging, but the main thrust is to demonstrate that especially in uncertain financial times, the surest way of ensuring successful project delivery is to use steel construction.

This issue of NSC also shows something of the diversity of projects that would not be possible in the shape conceived by their designers without flexibility, ease of construction and other steel benefits. Cutty Sark’s restoration, our cover story, is one of the highest profile heritage projects in the world, one which would not be possible to put on public view in London in the way it has been without the creative use of steel.

Steel, the most modern of methods of construction, is playing a key role in preserving other parts of our heritage; for example, last year we reported on the creation of a new hull shaped home for Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose in Portsmouth (NSC Oct 2011) which opens this year. A ‘pearl within an oyster’ as architect Chris Wilkinson called it, built with great sensitivity in a dock that is itself a scheduled ancient monument. Hard to imagine it having been done so successfully without steel.

In Worcester a new sports and leisure club is being built for the David Lloyd Group, with steelwork designed and fabricated to meet tight deadlines in just five weeks. Fabrication was under way at the same time as the on-site preparation works, and the steel frame was ready for quick erection as soon as the site was available. This was a challenging timescale but it is the sort of challenge that steelwork designers and contractors routinely rise to.

On other pages you will read about one of the biggest television and film stages in Europe being created at the world famous Pinewood Studios, calling for a flexible construction approach that would intrude as little as possible on a congested site where other programmes and films were being filmed. The steel-framed Richard Attenborough Stage has been built to a fast track programme, on budget and to the highest standard, earning plaudits from a satisfied client grateful for not having had to disrupt any major productions.

Steel is widely acknowledged as having the best sustainability case among construction materials, so it is no surprise to see it feature in this issue as the framing material for a large recycling facility that will revolutionise the handling of much of Cumbria’s waste. As well as an efficient facility, Cumbria gets a major industrial building that works on an aesthetic level too. The Surest Way is Steel is clearly no idle boast.

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