Office Re-Location

FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY AT CHESSINGTON

Although we had spent nearly twenty happy years at our previous location in New Malden the time was right for us to move on into a facility that would allow us to cope with the growing demands of the modern day façade industry. We had seen the need for us to become more than just a simple supplier of façade materials but to add value to our service, incorporate our renowned design and engineering expertise and provide our customers with what they wanted.

The premises at Chessington have a large warehouse facility attached to it that provided us with the space to carry out far more activities than we were ever able to previously. One of the first commissions undertaken was to construct the planning sample for the eyetech expanded mesh cladding that was to shroud the new British Airways i360 viewing tower. This new landmark structure is a 162 m observation tower on the seafront of Brighton, East Sussex, England at the landward end of the former West Pier. The tower opened on 4 August 2016 and from the fully enclosed viewing pod, visitors experience 360-degree views across Brighton, the South Downs and the English Channel. Designed by award winning Architects #MarksBarfield, who also designed the London eye, our eyetech expanded mesh cladding system was chosen to completely clad the whole of the circular steelwork structure of the tower for its full height.

Clearly with such a dominating structure being proposed on their doorstep the local planning authorities insisted that a large scale sample of the proposed cladding was placed on the seafront prior to construction starting so that the eyetech mesh could be seen in context. James & Taylor created a dummy quadrant of the tower structure at 6m tall that was then overclad in curved expanded eyetech mesh. This whole structure was then uplifted to Brighton where it was put on display for public perusal prior to full scale construction of the tower.

Our Moeding terracotta rainscreen cladding part of the business has also benefitted greatly from us having the new facility. In recent years we have witnessed an increase in demand for us to supply fully fabricated terracotta components and in particular baguette or fin structures that generally act as brise soleil or solar shading components on a façade.

The most recent example of such a requirement is the recently opened Zayed Centre into research of Children’s diseases at Great Ormond St Hospital. The main façade of the building is approximately 70m long and is completely clad from the first floor to roof level with #Moeding terracotta cladding simulated to look like natural stone. The main feature of the cladding is 150no. fin structures that act as the sun shading for the complete glass façade behind. The engineering was challenging to provide fully assembled fins that are only attached to the intermediate floors with spans of up to 4.5m between fixing points.

At our Chessington facility we were able to fully pre-fabricate these fins on their backs onto suitably sized pallets for transportation to site. Once on site they were carefully lifted to the vertical by tower crane using our purpose made lifting equipment that allowed this operation to take place safely without any undue stress to the internal structure or damage to the outer terracotta pieces. Once safely vertical they were then lifted into their final position on the building and bolted into place.

We have successfully completed a number of projects using this pre-fabrication and site installation technique since our time at Chessington including The Word at South Shields, Dundee Railway Station and East Ham Library.

With the recent advent of Architects using terracotta facades in more unusual and interesting ways, we are finding that projects require a much larger selection of tile types than was previously known. They are also using random colours, grooved patterns and tile profiles more and more within their designs which inevitably leads to a more complex list of finished tiles for the project. This can be challenging to handle logistically on a site with very little room for storage or room to spread out to allow any type of sorting process to take place safely and efficiently.

This is another area where are new facilities have come into their own. We have now supplied a number of projects, particularly in London where room on site is normally at a premium, and carried out a segregation service to projects. We are able to provide bespoke pallet contents that allow delivery to site of a pallet of specific tiles that are required for particular areas. This is immensely helpful to the site installation team who know that they are loading a pallet to a given area with maybe 20No tiles in total but may actually contain 20No different individual tiles. Without the segregation service the site team would have to carry out this process themselves which under site conditions with limited room can be extremely difficult to manage effectively and can often lead to prolonged installation time and excessive damage to the tiles themselves.

One of our most recent projects where segregation was carried out was a 5,000m² residential building at Dudley House ,Paddington in West London. There were 35,500 No individual tiles that were spread across 2,00No types so there was very little repetition of tile types. To avoid the proverbial “looking for a needle in a haystack” on site we carried out the segregation work at our premises in relatively comfortable conditions and supplied the tiles, palletised in areas as defined by our customer. They were then able to load the pallets direct to the applicable work area on site which allowed for a more efficient site installation.

So we have much to look back on with great pride over the last five years since our move to Chessington and taking advantage of the opportunities that our new location offers us has been a big part of that.

Text by Rob Smith

Related News