Fairfax Street Student
Steel tonnage: 1,800t
Erection Department Manager Richard
A final piece of the steelwork jigsaw will
be completed in February when Caunton
will return to site to erect 26t of steel that
forms a single-storey podium deck situated
in front of Block C. This will accommodate
ground floor retail units and a landscaped
private garden on the first floor.
Caunton Engineering has been employed
on a design and build contract for the
scheme. The company’s Senior Structural
Engineer Colin Winter says: “Although
there are four blocks and a podium, much
of the steelwork is fairly straightforward and
repetitive as each of the accommodation
blocks have identical floor plans.”
The four accommodation blocks have
widths between 13m and 15m, with only
one internal column line. These members
are offset from a central line, allowing them
to be positioned one side of the corridor that
separates two rows of bedrooms on each of
the block’s floors.
Meanwhile, perimeter columns are
generally set at 6m or 7m intervals, with
stability for the frames derived from full
height vertical bracing systems.
The bracing forms steel cores around
stairs and lifts, which are located in the two
tallest towers, Blocks B and D.
“The entire scheme is essentially two
large steel frames, separated by a movement
joint between Block C and B,” explains Mr
The regimented tower block grid lines
even include non-bedroom areas such as
the ground and first floor areas which will
accommodate retail and student communal
Some of these areas will be subjected
to higher loadings and so larger beams,
measuring 350mm × 300mm, have been
installed at first floor level in Block A where
a student gym will be located.
The majority of Fairfax Street Student
Accommodation will be handed over to the
client in August 2019.
As the steel frame of this project began to rise,
the cranes used to lift the steelwork had to
“All of the steelwork up to level nine was done
using mobile cranes, positioned in the building’s
footprints and on the plot where Block C now sits,”
explains Caunton Engineering Deputy Erection
Department Manager Richard Patterson.
“Once we reached floor 10, it was more costeffective
to use tower cranes so Winvic installed two
units, which were then predominantly used for the
The site’s two cranes are 75m and 85m tall
respectively, and are the largest tower cranes ever
managed by Winvic.
Due to the height of the cranes, Winvic says it has
had to inform the Aviation Authority of the position
and height of these cranes as they are a potential
hazard to low flying aircraft. At night both cranes
display red warning lights to help identify them to
aircraft, as units this high are unusual in Coventry.
For the erection programme, Caunton used
MEWPs positioned on the ground floor to work in
conjunction with the cranes. However, once the
erection sequence progressed beyond level 14, the
MEWPs did not have the required reach.
“You can get MEWPs with a longer reach but
they are expensive to hire and use, and as the
floors were yet to be concreted we used a bespoke
platform system that supports the MEWPs on the
already erected steel frame,” says Mr Patterson.
As the steel frame progressed upwards, two
floors at a time, the tower cranes would then lift
the frames to their next position and then place
the MEWPs, in readiness for the next stage of steel
Artist’s impression of
the finished scheme