Vita Student Accommodation - Intelligent steel

Intelligent steel worked with Carillion Construction to create a large student accommodation scheme of over 280 units, located in central Newcastle. This time-critical project with several complex site constraints needed a building solution that would deliver both pace and innovation.

Working with Carillion, Intelligent steel designed, manufactured and installed a fully load-bearing light steel frame (LSF) solution to create the 280 unit Vita Student building in Newcastle. As a large city centre scheme, the development faced numerous site constraints, prohibiting the use of traditional construction methods. Furthermore, the time-criticality of student accommodation developments meant that a fast-paced method of construction was required.

Using advanced 3D-modelling techniques, Intelligent steel developed an LSF solution that would enable rapid manufacture and a significant reduction in site activities. The use of offsite manufactured, pre-boarded wall frames and floor cassettes, and the installation of pre-assembled bathroom pods, meant not only that the building could be assembled rapidly but that each floor could quickly be made watertight for the progression of follow-on trades.

With safety and site restrictions in mind, Intelligent steel also developed an edge protection system that was fully integrated with the pre-assembled frames, removing the need for any scaffolding on the site. This, along with the provision of just-in-time deliveries, meant that the restrictions posed by the city centre location no longer impacted the client.

Using 3D modelling and BIM, a design was created that enabled 95% of the structure to be built from cold-rolled steel components that could be pre-assembled away from the development site. All walls and floors were designed such that they could be pre-panellised and simply craned into position onsite. Cement particle board was factory-fitted to all wall panels as part of the assembly process and OSB decking was pre-fitted to all floor cassettes.

All edge cassettes were designed such that they could accommodate an innovative hand-rail system, specifically developed by Intelligent steel to remove the need for scaffolding. The system was installed prior to components being lifted into position so that edge protection was in place prior to gaining access to the next level of the build. Each component was designed such that onsite fixing could be done from underneath, further reducing site risks.

Because of the pre-assembly and pre-boarding of components, each floor was rapidly watertight meaning follow-on trades could immediately make progress in parallel to the LSF installation.

Using light gauge steel as the main building material, Intelligent steel were able to offer a solution that not only benefited from the use of offsite manufacturing, but benefited from the mechanical and material properties of the steel itself. By using S350Nmm2 steel with 275gm2 galvanised coating, Intelligent steel were able to provide a strength/weight ratio that significantly reduced the extent of the required building foundations. The fully galvanized coating provided life time corrosion protection and the employment of cold rolled steel delivered a high degree of tolerance and dimensional accuracy.

To ensure the highest level of technical achievement and best practice, each stage of the project was measured and controlled to ISO standards with every steel frame uniquely labelled with frame number, weight and GA site references. A bespoke CAD/CAM interface, using CNC technology, was used to ensure every steel component produced using our state-of-the-art roll-forming machines exactly matched the approved design. Further to this, each component was produced to be self-jigging for accurate and fast assembly within the factory, further assuring quality at every step of the process.

The speed of LSF installation and ability to reduce the critical path meant the project was delivered 50% faster than would be possible with traditional methods. Added to this, round-the-clock manufacturing provided programme certainty not seen by our client on similar schemes. Beyond this, the fact that LSF can be installed in wet and inclement conditions enabled further programme acceleration and certainty.

Finally, because the steel solution provided a rapid dry envelope, follow on trades could commence work in parallel to the LSF install. For on-budget delivery, the solution provided a myriad of cost savings. Preliminary costs were reduced due to the faster programme, foundation costs were reduced due to the low weight of the solution and waste costs were reduced due to the use of a pre-engineered no-waste design. By employing the use of cold-rolled light steel, Intelligent steel was able to deliver a solution that used 100% recyclable materials. Further to this, 98% of all factory waste was recycled and zero site wastage was generated.

Delivered to-programme and significantly faster than traditional methods, the project has been a resounding success. Situated in a prominent city centre location, having a significant visual impact whilst being constructed was important as was minimising any disruption within the City. Key stakeholders have commented that the development has re-defined the standards of modern construction in the City, where an enclosed and congested environment has previously limited the delivery of cutting edge architectural briefs.


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