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Survey casts vote for steel

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The latest market research on the UK market for structural frames by independent researchers Construction Markets shows a healthy and continued market preference for using steel, as it has for each of the past 37 years (see News).

This is clear recognition that steel is the best material to meet the needs of clients and to achieve the architect’s and engineer’s designs.

It is also of course a vote of confidence in steelwork contractors – mostly BCSA members – who consistently justify their international reputation for producing world-leading, often complex structures that allow the vision of architects and engineers to be fully realised and expressed. When this ability is allied to consistently providing the most economical framing solutions steel’s dominance looks unshakeable; and that is before all its circular economy and sustainability benefits are factored in.

The 2017 survey shows steel dominating the multi-storey non-domestic market, which accounts for some 20% of the total frames market, with a share of over 66%, a touch above the previous year. No alternative material even managed as much as a third of this.

Steel’s dominance in the single storey non-domestic market is even more marked, some 98% in the key market for sheds.

The survey showed growth in the overall market for structural frames of 4% compared to 2016, at over 43,000,000 m2 of floor area, with 43% of this overall market captured by steel. The survey shows a mixture of ups and downs in the size of the various sub sectors; steel’s market share was up in multi-storey health, education and leisure for example, and in single storey non-domestic buildings for the offices, retail, leisure and health sectors.

The latest ‘crane survey’ from Deloittes can also be read about in our News section this month, showing healthy growth in demand for commercial, and residential schemes in cities outside London, all markets served well by steel.

Steel is typically selected for major landmark schemes in urban areas like London, both the City and West End, and it is encouraging to report in News that steel is to be used to frame what will be Coventry’s tallest residential building, a major student accommodation project comprising four interlinked towers of up to 22 storeys.

Evidence that the City aims to remain an international financial services leader can be seen in News where we report on start of work on a landmark 50-storey tower at Bishopsgate/Leadenhall Street. The distinctive design, with its array of ‘stacked blocks’, has been designed in steel.

News like this supports the survey’s findings, confirms robust demand for structural steelwork, and reinforces confidence among clients and designers that they are making the right choice when they select steel solutions.

Nick Barrett

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