Steel makes the best possible
Predictions of the end of the office are still being made and as frequently refuted, and it does seem probable that more people will spend time working from home than in the past, but most organisations and companies still seem to consider an office base essential, even if the square footage required is less.
There is a shortage of Grade A office space in most major UK cities, so the demand looks like remaining strong enough to keep the developer market encouraged to keep building. The City of London has a strong development pipeline as we report in the article on the latest sustainably strong, steel-framed landmark development, at 22 Ropemaker Street. This aims to be a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ office and retail development near Moorgate Station.
Speed of construction, longer spans, shallower floors, lighter foundations as well as the wide range of other sustainability benefits came into their own when the designers opted for a steel-framed solution. Meeting some tricky engineering requirements also played a role due to proximity to Network Rail and London Underground tunnels, which was made possible by using a steel frame. Steel has allowed delivery of the ‘best scheme possible’ without comprising design, amenities or the identity of the building.
Construction teams on all of the projects featured in this issue of NSC can be said to be delivering the best schemes possible, a range of projects that are widely spread across the UK, from London to Norfolk, Coventry, Liverpool and Falkirk. The range of types of structure is also impressively wide.
Piling challenges were also overcome thanks to steel’s lightweight qualities at the Isle of Man Government’s development of a new ferry terminal in Liverpool, where ferry services have operated for some 200 years. The terminal sits within a £5Bn regeneration scheme of the docks and is riddled with old culverts and other below surface voids. As a gateway to the Isle of Man the client was also keen to have an aesthetically pleasing terminal, so most of the internal steelwork will be exposed.
Steel is bringing good cheer to the world’s whisky afficionados with a new distillery reviving production at the site of the old Rosebank Distillery in Falkirk. Aesthetics are also very important here as the new facility is designed to become a tourist attraction. Steel’s flexibility came to the fore when the design had to accommodate a tight site bound by a road and a canal as well as retention of the local landmark old distillery masonry chimney.
Steel had to be the intelligent choice for a state-of-the-art Materials Recycling Facility at Coventry which will employ artificial intelligence in its operations, thought to be a first. It was also a more technically challenging project than it looks at first, as we explain.
In Norwich we return to the site of the airport, which we last visited in 2017 to report on a conversion of an old hangar to an aviation academy. This time a new hangar and workshop is being created to serve Dutch airline KLM operations. The column-free spans required could only have been created using steel.
Whatever changing patterns of demand emerge as our economy develops, steel will be creating the best schemes possible.