Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects LLP
Michael Barclay Partnership
Littlehampton Welding Ltd
From the outset this project aimed to follow best practice in sustainable development, introduce innovative construction and a high level of prefabrication.
Beaufort Court is a high-density urban development with mixed tenure including provision for the socially excluded. It is situated adjacent to an existing estate of 19th Century buildings and provides 65 units of housing, a tenant’s meeting room shared with the existing estate’s tenants, and an underground car park for 44 vehicles.
The development consists of three blocks forming the north, south and east boundaries to a protected enclosure. The external façade of the buildings consists of a pattern of full height glazing, stack bonded terracotta blocks, terracotta rainscreen cladding and coloured render. The elevation is punctuated with visually expressed steel columns, beams and balconies, continuing the rhythm of the existing adjacent Peabody buildings. The roofs of the lower blocks are planted with sedum, reinforcing the green landscape strategy. Steel was chosen after a comparative analysis of the alternatives. The aim was to devise a high quality, safe, cost-effective solution in the context of sustainable construction. The structure devised is a prefabricated steel system incorporating large light gauge steel panels for floors and walls, three dimensional modules for the bathrooms and hot rolled steel for balconies and other “visually expressed” steel components. This form of construction was chosen because of the following advantages:
- The hybrid arrangement allows bespoke construction giving considerable flexibility in architectural form – important because of the mix of accommodation types needed and the planning constraints.
- The ease of integrating services with the structure.
- Low U values leading to low energy consumption.
- Excellent sound performance that exceeds Building Regulation requirements.
- Environmental benefits – reducing waste, minimising pollution by carrying out the work under controlled conditions, recyclability, lower environmental costs of transportation.
- Safe construction: pre-decked floor cassettes provide safe working platforms during erection; off-site construction in a controlled environment reduces risk.
- Economies in foundations and transfer structures through exceptionally light weight construction.
- The use of light gauge steel panels reduces transportation and eases site access and storage.
- Fully fitted bathroom pods reduce on site construction time and secure quality of high value components.
- The site work is predominantly dry and clean – dry floor construction; dry-lining to the walls, much of the cladding is clipped in place and factory-made bathrooms. The result is high quality of construction and minimum wastage of materials.
- The form of construction was shown to be comparable in cost to traditional construction; but superior in the other respects identified above. The construction was built to budget and within a week of the programme.
In order to maximise structural efficiency, load paths are made as direct as possible by avoiding transfer structures and by ensuring that wall studs and floor joists are aligned at every junction. This is an important factor in the design process and requires a significant co-ordination effort. To put it in context at Beaufort Court, there are some 1,000 panels of 400 different types in the six-storey block. Such a high degree of non-standard panels is only viable because of the extensive use of computer aided design.
Once again the Peabody Trust has shown how steel can be used so effectively to provide high quality social housing using a prefabricated steel system incorporating light gauge steel panels, modular bathrooms and exposed hot rolled steel construction.