Designing New Forms with Light Steel Frame

17th January, 2022

The construction of 504 Bristol Rd was a complex project due to the location of the site and the design's unusual architectural shapes and forms. The perfect solution was the lightweight steel frame Hadley Steel Framing System (HSF).

504 Bristol rd is a brand-new development located in Selly Oak, Birmingham, consisting of offices, retail and multi-level student accommodation of 70 self-contained luxury studios and has various internal and external communal spaces including study pods and a large courtyard.

The shape and design of the building in this project make it unique and innovative. The building was designed with reference to the historical character of the site and with respect to shipbuilding. This is clearly translated in its built form, massing and the materials used. The 3,193sq m space is arranged over four floors, with the ground floor given over for retail purposes, and the fifth floor largely glazed and setback. The design for this scheme was very exciting as the challenge faced was to provide a building of an architectural merit that was equal to the existing Victorian building that occupied the site.

The inverted and skewed brickwork and window detailing is derived from an inverted traditional Victorian bay window. The layering also takes a strong cue from the Victorian layering and articulation of façade treatment with vertical and horizontal alignments. The conical form turning the corner was inspired by vessel building which happened near the site. The internal layout of the studios is to allow students, an open plan and independent space. The development has good standards of natural light and ventilation. Window sizes are larger than traditional residential housing to allow increased daylight levels and maximise passive solar gains. The development has led to a significant and material improvement in the appearance of the site and the street scene by virtue of its modern, contemporary design and the use of quality materials.

Considering the highly restricted access and time constraints, the design team concluded that the best construction method for this development would be a hot rolled steel frame on the ground floor supporting a ComFlor® transfer deck to take four floors of cold rolled structural load bearing steel frame system such as HSF.

Hadley Steel Framing as a manufacturer wanted to prove and demonstrate that the conical form can be built utilising their system and offsite construction techniques. As steel is such a versatile construction material, it was able to produce a unique and innovative shape and design while at the same time create a structure that is both durable and safe utilising the expertise and skills of HSF. 

Due to Hadley Steel Framing’s unique manufacturing methods, cold roll forming, they could produce the frames with efficient production solutions, reducing design and manufacturing time whilst simultaneously ensuring outstanding quality and accuracy. These construction components can be of bespoke design or standardised components offering the opportunity for creativity and efficient construction best suited to the project criteria.

Using the lightweight steel frame structure meant the project was delivered on time, on budget whilst maintaining the highest quality standards. The challenging site, with minimal storage demanded a meticulous delivery schedule and by using this offsite method, delays were avoided in the final project delivery. Costs were easier to predict, as design specifications were met reducing the margin of error and lowering the cost of remedying possible construction defects.

By using HSF, solutions could be created that met the design requirements and time scales ensuring a seamless process to completion. All structural calculations were made ensuring all structural components for the whole building frame (composite floor slabs and structural steel) were designed efficiently thus working within the project’s financial constraints. One other benefit was to provide the client and contractor with a building that was watertight within three weeks, which allowed them to commence internal building work whilst brickwork and rainscreen cladding was installed at the same time.

Hadley Steel Framing had not undertaken such complex shapes such as the conical design before and the result is hugely successful and a credit to the project teamwork. It is equally a striking addition to what has been for many years a tired and deteriorating urban street scene in Selly Oak. The 504 Bristol Road development provides a new level of much-needed contemporary student accommodation within the student village of Selly Oak providing all the necessary facilities on-site and creating a luxurious environment for students to thrive.

To read the full article, go to Offsite Magazine

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