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Steel captures collaborative benefits

February 7, 2018 by NSC in Comment
NSC’s Annual Review of projects featured in the magazine throughout last year has been delivered with a range of construction magazines in recent weeks. It can be found on the NSC website if you missed your copy.

The projects in the Annual Review are selected to show the diversity of project size and type, and geographical spread of outstanding steel construction projects, which NSC aims to do in every issue. Increasingly they reflect a growing emphasis on collaboration and transparency as the construction industry responds to client demands for new ways of working.

The O2 centre in London is a project that shows steel’s circular economy agenda advantages, with the foundation slab being reused on a retail project that is designed for deconstruction. The design was informed by being able to access drawings from the steelwork contractor who originally worked on The O2 some years ago, a level of collaboration that was made straightforward by taking advantage of the Building Information Modelling capabilities of software that the steel construction sector has been using for some 30 years.

In Edinburgh close collaboration among the construction team is delivering prestige apartments at the Grade A listed Donaldson’s School to the west of Edinburgh city centre which is being given a new lease of life by reconfiguring the interior. Steel has also been selected for an adjacent new building thanks to its ability to provide the desired floor-to-ceiling heights while keeping the overall building height to an acceptable level at this sensitive location. The parabolic frontage is a striking feature of the new build elements, formed without the use of curved sections by using facetted steelwork.

Over in Dublin, where the local economy looks like it is recovering strongly from the travails of recent years, we visited the old Sir John Rogerson Quay area on the south bank of the Liffey which is being given a new role as a commercial and retail landmark, with a steel frame providing the open-plan spaces that are popular with tenants.

In London a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating is the target for a project at Kings Cross where steel was selected to replace a concrete alternative by providing a more economical way of achieving long spans and integrated services. These are features strongly valued by tenants and the 12-storey building has been fully pre-let.

Collaboration was also a feature of our foray to Cumbria where steel has been selected to provide Whitehaven with two new school buildings because of its speed of construction and flexibility. The construction team won a race against the onset of winter in its bid to create a watertight structure before the Cumbrian rainy season took its usual firm grip. Steel is tried and tested for schools, with its built in flexibility and large, clear spans allowing for future changes of use like changing class sizes.

Collaborative working has always been a feature of the service that steelwork contractors pride themselves on delivering. Just as the sector was ready to respond to fresh demands for BIM on projects because it had for long worked that way anyway, the new focus on collaboration is being fully supported by a steel sector eager to respond.

Nick Barrett

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