Metframe's pre-panelised system helped deliver a new student block combining a flexible modern interior with an attractive traditional exterior in just 13 weeks
Founded nearly 65 years ago, CATS College is an innovative independent education provider with four campuses across the UK and USA providing residential education to students studying GCSEs, A Levels and International Baccalaureates.
A new student accommodation block was commissioned to offer 87 en-suite rooms, a café, common room and flexible social areas for the students. The project had a tight timeline to ensure a handover date to coincide with the academic year, and needed to be completed within just 14 weeks, so speed of build was paramount.
Another key consideration of the project was the design. With CATS College's prestigious locations and buildings, it was important that the design and features of the new building were sympathetic to the area, blending in with the local environment and complementing existing architecture.
How the pre-panelised system works
Metframe is a pre-panelised system that is used to provide the load-bearing structure for low- to medium-rise structures. The system uses stud, track and zed ledger sections, which are assembled into panels offsite. The complete panels are then transported to site according to the project's schedule, ready for immediate installation.
Metframe's versatility also provides architects with enormous flexibility in the building's design, something which was highly valued at CATS College, Canterbury, where the new building needed to complement other buildings on the campus.
The complex mansard roof configuration had multiple valleys and hips that needed to be incorporated into the design and the flexibility of the Metframe solution meant that the roof for the project could be formed using steel. It's a competitive solution; rather than needing to commission a second company to design and form a roof, Metsec could supply one package, including a steel roofing solution, which added value and provided significant time savings to the project.
The CATS College project
Inside, the building was designed to be futureproof with hot-rolled steel beams used in some areas to accommodate non-load-bearing stud work, providing the potential for future adaptation of wall/room configurations.
The detailing process involved in the design began with the import of the architectural CAD modelling into a bespoke 3D environment. This determined all setting-out and allowed structural components to be fully modelled in this environment.
In turn, this enabled Metsec to precisely manufacture all of the components according to the agreed design. Manufactured at its UK facilities to the specified lengths, even the holes required for offsite panel assembly and on-site erection are punched before the components leave Metsec's factory, further contributing towards speed and cost efficiencies.
Main contractor Jenner selected the Metframe solution for its ability to be prefabricated offsite, enabling the on-site installation to be completed by only five personnel in just 13 weeks, a week ahead of schedule.
The CATS College project demonstrates a broad range of environmentally friendly materials and processes. The cold-rolled steel used in Metframe offers an excellent strength-to-weight ratio meaning that not only did the project require less steel overall, but the lightweight structure required shallower foundations to be installed, providing material, time and cost savings. In addition, precision manufacture of the structural components significantly reduces material wastage.
James Gallear of Atkin Trade Specialists, said: "This project not only meets the client's current design requirements but exceeds them by providing a futureproof solution.
"The design approach has created a building which combines the traditional exterior appearance necessary to blend in with existing buildings with a flexible modern interior space which can be easily adapted to meet future needs."