Top performance: Structural strength and design

21st March, 2019

FP McCann is one of the UK's leading providers of precast concrete systems for the structural and architectural markets and has become specialised in the hotel and student accommodation sectors in particular. Two recent examples showcase this key offsite approach to the highest level.

Holiday Inn Express (HIEx) Bridgwater, Somerset The Holiday Inn Express Group specified FP McCann's modular precast concrete frame solution on its fourth generation hotel design. HIEx, Bridgwater, Somerset, used brick faced and acid etched 'sandwich' cladding panels, precast concrete reinforced solid floor slabs, internal walls and stairs. FP McCann's structural precast concrete building and architectural facades division supplied and installed the complete package of modular precast components on the brand new £10 million hotel. Working on behalf of main contractor Midas Construction, experienced sub-contracting partner to FP McCann, S4J Ltd, is undertaking the precast frame build.

The 138 room accommodation situated at Junction 24 of the M5 motorway is one of the Zeal Hotel Group's new Gen 4 hotel schemes for HIEx developments. Once complete in spring 2019, it is ideally located to part serve the local workforce and visitors to the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. An architect on the project is Aros and the consultant structural engineer is Clegg Associates, who have also employed the design services of Practech Design Studio (PDS) for the detailing of the external façade.


The four-storey building is well underway with work having commenced in March 2018. In total, around 509 individual precast concrete structural and architectural units will make up the precast structural frame including 394 structural products consisting of reinforced concrete solid floor slabs, internal walls and stairs all manufactured at FP McCann's Grantham depot.

The building's architectural façade has been specifically designed to incorporate both a brick faced and acid etched finish. The decorative cladding panels are of an insulated 'sandwich' construction, specially cast to meet the exacting design brief. The 30 brick faced panels, each 365mm thick, are being manufactured at Grantham and 84 acid etched panels from Littleport are 410mm thick, with two different colour shades to match the architectural design requirements.

The insulation layer sits between the inner and outer concrete faces on each sandwich panel and has been designed to accommodate the aluminium framed 0.18 U-value windows, supplied by Window Glass (Bristol) Ltd, all pre-installed into the precast panels prior to delivery. A single handling operation on site then ensures that the architectural panels are installed quickly and efficiently with minimal risk of damage.

The precast wall and floor sections have been designed for ease of build, linking together with hidden tie rods. Joints are finished with a high-strength, non-shrink grout. As part of the contract, S4J Ltd are also installing 130 pre-formed bathroom pods supplied by Somerset-based company, Offsite Solutions (RT) Ltd. Both the structural and architectural facade teams at FP McCann have worked closely with the engineers and architects on the project to ensure all aspects of the build meet the exacting client specification.

Commenting on the building progress to date, Grant Millar, Operations Manager for Midas Construction says: "This method of modular precast construction demonstrates a number of efficiencies compared with practices associated with a traditional build. The remote manufacturing of the building components offers significant advantages in terms of product quality and integrity. On-site, speed of construction, minimising waste and the ability to work uninterrupted in all weather conditions are all major benefits. Additionally, the sandwich panel external facade system removes the need for scaffolding, thereby minimising the health and safety risk factors associated with people working at height."

The Beatrice Shilling STEM Building FP McCann has also supplied a full package of precast concrete building products on a brand new science and technology facility at Coventry University. The Beatrice Shilling STEM building uses pre-stressed hollowcore flooring, lift shafts, precast concrete stairs and precast concrete 'L' walls. Due to open in 2020, the building will feature a range of state-of-the-art spaces, including a gaming and virtual reality studio, a specialist area for 3D printing and rapid prototyping, a laser facility, and physics and electronics laboratories. It will be linked to an existing building via a covered bridge walkway. The four-storey development includes the construction of a steel frame and precast concrete superstructure covering a total floor area of 5,366m². The main contractor on the £27 million project is West Midlands based Speller Metcalfe. Also employed on the project are structural steel fixing specialist Adstone Construction and civils groundworker S&G Groundworks Ltd.


Earlier in 2018, FP McCann secured the contract to supply 1,500 tonnes of precast products, including hollowcore flooring, lift shafts, stairs and 'L' walls, all supplied from a number of FP McCann's specialist precast concrete factories. The hollowcore flooring system covering 4914m² comprises 150mm and 200mm deep prestressed steel reinforced concrete planks, all delivered from FP McCann's Uddingston depot in Scotland. The ground to third floors have been linked with two precast concrete stair flights and have been installed by Adstone Construction. Both the hollowcore flooring and stairs have been covered with 58m3 of wet work concrete and rebar as part of the disproportionate collapse tie details undertaken by Beresford Flooring's progressive collapse joinery team.


Additionally, two of FP McCann's sectional lift shafts each measuring 15.30m high have also been installed by FP McCann's own specialist contracting team. Individual square shaft sections (2.20m x 2.20m) were delivered on a just-in-time basis from FP McCann's Grantham works in Lincolnshire. Completing the supply contract, 80 precast concrete 'L' walls 1.75m high x 1.0m wide have been installed by S&G Groundworks to form a soil retaining wall to the boundary of the building. The 'L' walls have also been supplied from FP McCann's Grantham depot.

Speaking on behalf of Speller Metcalfe, Project Lead Ed McDonald says: "The precast, pre-stressed concrete hollowcore planks, stairs and lift shafts specified as part of the design and build were all supplied to the highest standard on a just-in-time delivery schedule. The simple and speedy fixing of all precast concrete products ensured that the work was undertaken in a safe and efficient manner, with installation completed to programme." For more information visit:

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