St James Quarter - Explore Manufacturing

Project Details

Project - St James Quarter

Sector - Retail/Leisure

Technology - Concrete

Company - Explore Manufacturing

Project Overview:

Situated in the heart of Edinburgh City Centre, the St James Quarter is a new 1.7 million square foot development containing 850,000 sq. ft of retail space, alongside restaurants, cafes, bars, public spaces, a world class W hotel, leisure venues and private apartments offering breath-taking views across the city.

The St James Quarter in Edinburgh is our biggest single precast project to date. Working alongside our parent company and main contractor Laing O'Rourke, Explore Manufacturing were responsible for the delivery of all the precast concrete components. Our works involved the manufacture of 8,416m2 of reconstituted single skin facade  panels, 11,812m2 of natural stone faced single skin facade panels, 23,986m2 of lattice planks and double height columns.

The main stone used for the cladding was Jura limestone from Germany, alongside Muschelkalk and a Celtic Blue Granite “kicker”. The upper elevations of the buildings also contain a reconstituted concrete with a light blast finish. The project contains a number of bespoke features, namely a true curved elevation where the stone and moulds had to be fabricated with the curve, in addition to a statement entrance at Register Square with its unique and very challenging panel geometry. Extensive reviews were undertaken of both the manufacturing and installation strategies before design could be finalised to ensure construction. To deliver this element, we required moulds of different angles and degrees in line with the design.

The panels are stacked, bearing onto a capping beam or steel frame, and then restrained by the steel frame. We carried out extensive design reviews to ensure the panels could accommodate the challenges of different degrees of settlement and movement. The recon panels at the top of the building were reduced thickness to minimise the load on the structure and reduce the volume of concrete and therefore carbon. Key to delivery of the scheme was Digital Engineering.

Each stone was modelled and scheduled to allow the stone cutters to produce the required sizes. This information was then able to be tracked from stone production, through to panel production and then installation. Images and models were used to communicate the status of the package. In addition, each fixing was individually modelled to coordinate the design with the steelwork contractor and fabrication of over 100,000 bracketry components.