JULY 2021 SAW THE OPENING OF PREMIER INN’S FLAGSHIP OXFORD WESTGATE. CONTRACTORS CARTER LAUREN CONSTRUCTION AND ATKIN TRADE SPECIALISTS NAVIGATED THROUGH THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC TO DELIVER THE LATEST ADDITION TO WHITBREAD PLC’S PROPERTY PORTFOLIO. SIMON PRYCE - DIRECTOR AT PROJECT ARCHITECTS, AND LSFA MEMBERS, ALLISON PIKE PARTNERSHIP – REFLECTS:
The design, which was developed in collaboration between Allison Pike Partnership and MICA Architects, was carefully considered to reflect the sensitive historic location, sandwiched between listed buildings and a new public square. The new hotel makes a positive contribution to its city centre setting by preserving and enhancing views of adjacent listed buildings. The preservation of visual and physical routes around the site have shaped a building that features stepped roof levels and a mixture of angled and projecting windows – all readily achieved by the Metframe light steel frame structure manufactured by voestalpine Metsec.
Light Steel Frame Solution
Metframe was the obvious choice for us. As with most city centre sites, space is at a premium so maximising prefabrication of components and minimising construction waste is key. The hotel as a building type certainly lends itself to a Metframe system, with a repeated footprint of 3m x 6m bedrooms forming both the bedroom spaces and the structural frame. Although not required by Building Regulations, Premier Inn requires each room to be formed as a fire compartment, therefore each dividing wall combines the functions of fire and acoustic separation between bedrooms and fire protection to the structure in a highly efficient manner. The ability of the Metframe system to accommodate a concrete floor structure was also a major benefit, achieving the necessary acoustic separation between floors without the need to install floating floor coverings, again reducing trades and the number of operations on site.
The building design required a number of quirky details such as projecting windows and angled brickwork reveals, all of which were easily accommodated by Metframe designers with the introduction of some hot rolled elements into the facade. Fully modelled 3D Metframe details are an incredibly useful tool to both the architects and construction site team – giving us design certainty and simplifying site setting-out for the follow-on trades.
Reducing the Fire Load
As a practice, we have been engaged in offsite construction methods for a number of years. We are increasingly turning to light steel framing on urban and more complex sites with the added benefits of reduced fire load and reduced fire risk to adjacent buildings compared to more traditional timber frame methods. The benefit of any type of prefabricated framing system is the ability to get the structure up, enclosed and water tight as soon as possible, taking the structure off the critical path as early in the programme as possible so the team can focus on internal finishes and external cladding. Metframe gives us the ability to create more complex facades and shapes while taking full advantage of the benefits presented by offsite methods of construction.
Oxford Westgate – The Back Story
Whitbread, which owns the Premier Inn hotel chain, started working on plans for the hotel in 2013 following the acquisition of a 1980s office building which originally occupied the site.
The redevelopment provided the opportunity to improve and enhance Paradise Square, a public space adjacent to the hotel, and 27 new jobs have been created at the hotel on opening.
Richard Aldread, Head of Construction in the UK regions and Ireland for Whitbread, said:
“We spotted the opportunity to bring Premier Inn’s affordable bedrooms into the heart of Oxford city centre around the time the plans to redevelop the Westgate Shopping Centre were being discussed. With the help of a talented team of designers and development professionals, and the support of City Council officers, we have built a superb new hotel in a challenging setting. It’s a proud moment to see the hotel open and I have no doubt that it will be extremely popular with our business and leisure guests and play a positive role in supporting the city’s economy.”
Whitbread’s sustainability strategy, ‘Force for Good’, is focused on helping the company’s customers, team members and suppliers to live and work well. The strategy is grouped into three key pillars of Opportunity, Community and Responsibility with long-term strategic commitments set for each.
For more information visit: www.allisonpike.com