The Walbrook building is a highly prestigious new office headquarters building. The building is one of the largest sites in the central London city area.
The Walbrook building provides 380,000sq ft. of premium office space across ten floors. The Architects’ objective was to provide a working environment that improves business performance. They utilised natural light in this project to enhance the working environment. Full height external glazing across all faces of the building flood large open floor areas with light, with the floor to ceiling glazing accounting for 75% of the building perimeter.
The facade of the building appears as an arced form, both vertically and horizontally, finished in high gloss metallic silver.
Who was involved
The client is Minerva Plc and Foster and Partners are the architect. The main contractor was ISG who appointed Integra Contracts to carry out the internal fit-out works of the building, who in turn enlisted Design and Visual Concepts Ltd (DVC) to undertake the specialist GRG work.
Integra enlisted DVC due to the high level of expertise, knowledge and attention for detail we are known for, to complete this highly complex and challenging aspect of the fit-out.
DVC were initially instructed to manufacture and install 130 Glass Reinforced Column encasements spread over four floors for the first phase of this project, which commenced in July 2012 and was completed at the beginning of November 2012. The second phase (level 7), consisted of a further 33 Columns, started in late January 2013 and was completed in March 2013. To date DVC have manufactured and installed 163 perimeter columns over 5 levels of the building.
DVC employed 4 installers, 4 plasterers and 1 Project Manager to work on the first phase of the project. Each of the GRG perimeter columns had to line up exactly with the external columns of the building to achieve a monolithic continuation of the outer scheme. The columns were then sprayed to a specialist high gloss silver finish to match the exterior facade of the building.
DVC’s objective was to achieve the very highest quality finish. We were tasked with the challenge of making a GRG column encasement, which, due to the large surface area, would require joints running vertically from the floor to the ceiling, along with high level horizontal joints, whilst maintaining the standards required for specialist spray-paint finishes.
– Shape of the building
– Achieving required finish
– Time constraints
Shape of the building
In order to accommodate the shape of the building, every single column encasement had to be bespoke and manufactured to line up with the exterior columns whilst achieving the internal design requirement. This represented the most challenging part of the project due to the ever changing angles and direction of the structure as they developed through the internal office space. The end result meant that each column had to be unique in design to achieve the architects’ desired finish.
As a result, DVC had to undertake detailed site surveys to produce the drawings required to manufacture each column encasement individually to fit. DVC undertook multiple measurements of each steel beam, from floor to ceiling, at varying points to work out the angles of the columns. After the survey works, DVC’s design team produced CAD drawings which were used to manufacture and construct. For each typical floor containing 33 columns, DVC produced drawings detailing 198 individual GRG sections to achieve the required finish.
Achieving required finish
With the finish required by the architects being so demanding, ISG and Integra needed to overcome a challenge that could not be compromised.
DVC were tasked with achieving this requirement. Each GRG column encasement had to form an exact abutment with a window mullion, with floor to ceiling glazing providing full exposure to natural daylight.
This meant that the vertical joints on each of the column encasements were exposed to direct sunlight creating zero fixing and finishing tolerance for the required monolithic spray paint finish.
There were programme constraints as the columns had to be installed before the main ceiling works could start, therefore DVC worked to a strict time-scale requiring that operatives were often working extended hours to achieve the deadline without comprising quality.
The bulk of the column encasements were manufactured in 6 parts (4 side sections and 2 fronts). The logistics were therefore of key consideration. Each level had 33 column encasements that were formed from 180 individually site surveyed GRG casts.
How DVC overcame our challenges
We worked with Foster and Partners, ISG and Integra closely throughout the project with clear communication, enabling the project to progress seamlessly without any disruptions or issues, within time and on budget. We have built up a very good working relationship with Integra over the years and this is demonstrated by them having complete confidence in our ability to deliver on challenging projects such as this.
Weekly progress meetings, tool box talks, Plant inspections and Health & Safety checks were some of the activities which took place on this project. Prior to work commencing DVC carried out a Risk Assessment and produced a Method Statement.
Our experienced and highly skilled design team and DVC’s in depth knowledge and specialist processes allowed us to undertake this type of work and meant we were not overcome by the expectations and challenges placed upon us. We achieved what the client and Architect wanted.
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Our experienced and highly skilled design team and DVC's in depth knowledge and specialist processes allowed us to undertake this type of work and meant we were not overcome by the expectations and challenges placed upon us. We achieved what the client and Architect wanted.