In partnership with the University of London, University Partnerships Programme (UPP) appointed a project team to redesign the existing student accommodation at Garden Halls and deliver a modernised environment that would accommodate and create a flagship development for the University.
Garden Halls will make a significant and long-term contribution to education attracting people from all over the world with its progressive facilities, while maintaining the aesthetic quality of one of the most historically important areas in London.
The entire (4,500m2) brick façade facing Cartwright Gardens as well as many of the other facades were manufactured offsite as composite precast brick faced panels. This was implemented as an approach to offer construction programme efficiencies and advantages, such as robust programme; guaranteed quality assurance as the panels were constructed in factory conditions; reduction in safety critical activities noting the reduced number of operatives works at height; reduced disturbance to neighbouring residence and businesses due to an omission of the perimeter scaffold.
Designed by executive architect, tp bennett, in partnership with Maccreanor Lavington, who was the architect for the principal façades, the new £140 million, 59,831 sq m scheme provides the University with a 18% net increase in capacity, which amounts to an additional 187 beds.
Design work started in 2012 ; the project team was required to manage specific challenges including: a rigid completion date of September 2016; the acquirement of planning permission within a conservation area; site and heritage constraints, and the demonstration of practices that were sustainable in their approach to construction methods as well as throughout the Garden Halls' lifecycle.
Garden Halls is now one of the largest and most responsive student residential developments in London, providing 1,200 rooms that consider the diversity of today's students and cater for all living requirements, including townhouses and cluster flats. It has a BREEAM Excellent rating and has been developed sensitively, closely engaging with key stakeholders such as English Heritage and the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee (CAAC).
The new buildings repair what was a fragmented urban block and deliver a scheme that respects its historic context. A key challenge to construct a contemporary nine-storey facade along one side of an historic garden square was delivered using specific off-site construction methods to maximise efficiencies and minimise waste.
The different precast elements of the facade were made by Thorp Precast in Staffordshire and transported to the site and craned into place. The facade was built in three zones beginning with the north end of the building and moving to the south. In each zone, the lower three-storey piers were erected first, then the spandrels and sills slotted in. This process was repeated up the building with the three-storey T-sections followed by the two-storey T-sections. Finally, the mansard sections were lifted into place together with the two-storey dormer windows.
The piers and T-sections bear all the weight back to the ground. These elements were stacked on top of each other and restrained back to the buildings' reinforced-concrete frame at the top of each section. The spandrels and sills were bolted to the piers on either side. This meant that the reinforced concrete frame only takes the horizontal loads from the facade, so it's a lot thinner than it would have been if it had to also support the weight of the precast panels. The only element supported by the reinforced-concrete frame is the two-storey mansard.
The project secured competitive funds in a volatile market, completed the construction on a logistically difficult site and commenced operations for the desired academic year.
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