Construction advances on Sheffield

Installation of 6,000sqm of Wicona unitised curtain walling is now well underway as part of the construction of a 32-storey tower, which will be Sheffield’s tallest building. The £5m façade contract is being delivered by Solaglas Contracting in partnership with Wicona Projects.

Installation of 6,000sqm of Wicona unitised curtain walling is now well underway as part of the construction of a 32-storey tower, which will be Sheffield’s tallest building.  The £5m façade contract is being delivered by Solaglas Contracting in partnership with Wicona Projects.

Developed by City Lofts, built by Shepherd Construction and designed by Conran & Partners, the tower is part of the City Lofts St Paul’s Apartments scheme – an ambitious £40m development and the focal point of the £180m Heart of the City regeneration project.

Designed to be light and slender, the tower will be highly glazed using around 6,000sqm of specially designed Wicona unitised curtain walling, which is being prefabricated off site by Solaglas.

672 unitised pre-glazed panels are being installed over a six-month period, at the rate of a floor per week – eliminating the need for scaffolding, improving site safety and cost efficiency, and allowing faster completion of the building envelope for earlier fitting out.

The tower will be iconic in stature and is already forming a commanding presence over the city skyline.  Its construction is using the latest off-site techniques, including pods for the kitchens, bathrooms and ensuites, prefabricated cylinder cupboards, and unitised curtain walling for the façade.

Teresa Wesley, Associate Director at Conran & Partners, commented, “We wanted to create a highly reflective façade for the tower, with contrasting clear and opaque areas of glass.  The Wicona unitised approach is allowing us to have a more regular appearance to meet our aesthetic requirements and offers many site-related advantages.  The façade solution is fast, efficient, offers greater quality control and generates less material waste, which is important for sustainable construction.”

Jon Mangham, Project Manager at Shepherd Construction, said, “The Wicona system has removed the need for scaffolding or mast climbers on this project which is a really important safety benefit for the construction of such a high structure.  The loadings on the scaffolding would make it dangerous to work at this height.”

“We believe completing the units off site in a manufacturing environment offers quality benefits and greater cost efficiency compared to site-based construction.  This is a more systematic approach to construction which will reduce the risk of remedial works and give us more programme certainty.  It is also allowing us to start fitting out at an earlier stage, as well as meet the most stringent performance and wind loading requirements.”

The unitised façade is being glazed in clear low E glass to the vision areas, with enamel-coated black opaque glass used as vertical strips to conceal insulated walls, and champagne-coloured vertical spandrel panels with concave pressings to conceal structural columns and party walls.  Aluminium-faced spandrel panels are also used as horizontal bands between floors.

The curtain walling is capped to form a visible grid for a ‘picture frame’ appearance and the frames are finished in light brown.  Bottom hung full-height vents are being inserted into the unitised panels to naturally ventilate all the bedrooms, with a tilt/slide door for the living areas, and an internal glass balustrade which is fixed independently.

In addition to the extensive use of glazing, the tower will have a variety of complementary external treatments – specially-made terracotta rainscreen to the building ends and bronze cladding to the rooftops, creating an elegant envelope for this landmark building.

Due for completion in Summer 2010, the tower will provide 230 luxury apartments – a mix of one and two-bed apartments and penthouses, with a contemporary Conran design for city centre living.  The two lower floors of the building will provide commercial and retail space.

Wicona Projects is the first façade specialist in the UK to offer a full package of services for unitised curtain walling, leading a team of specialists for every aspect of a façade project, from design concepts and specification, to fabrication, installation, testing and handover.  This approach gives specifiers, building contractors and developers the benefit of a seamless service, complete peace of mind and all the advantages of off-site construction for the building envelope

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