FGS completed an extensive curtain wall installation at a new mixed-use development in a prominent area of central London. Using an innovative, specially designed sliding track system to install the glass units into the VS-1 façade, FGS was able to reduce the footprint of the site, safeguard the installation team from the risks associated with working at height, and advance the speed of the installation by a considerable margin.
Occupying a prominent corner of Tottenham Court Road, One Bedford Avenue is a multi-use development which combines commercial offices with retail units to create a versatile commercial space with excellent transport links and an enviable location. Designed by Stirling-nominated architects Bennett’s Associates, One Bedford Avenue prioritises quality over quantity, replacing two outdated office blocks with highly attractive and energy efficient space with natural light on three sides and spectacular views at the upper levels.
With extremely limited external access, and a site perimeter not much greater than the building’s footprint, a high priority for the project was to create a safe method of working that could be completed from the inside of the building. Creating a small exclusion area for loading out and manipulation of the full height glazed frames was important so that the remaining floor slab area could remain operational and safe throughout the installation process.
To meet these challenges, the FGS project team created an innovative sliding track system to move the glass units from the loading area across the floor plate, and to place them on to the façade at the place of installation. As well as removing the need for floor cranes to traverse the slab, this installation method allowed the installation team to remain safely behind perimeter protection at all points in the process, greatly decreasing the risks to the operatives from risks associated with installation of materials at height, and at the same time freeing up the floor slab for other trades to operate safely.
Working with project managers Mace, FGS delivered a bespoke window system, with window profiles designed specifically for the project to meet the design intent and to accommodate associated building movements. Wicona curtain walling provided aesthetic benefits as well as well as superior U-values and air tightness ratings; FGS’ unique VS-1 structural glazing system also formed an integral part of the installation, with the building’s main entrance and reception area using the system to achieve an attractive aesthetic effect.
As well as helping to safeguard the onsite team from many of the risks associated with working at height, the unusual installation system delivered further benefits for the project. In addition to reducing the number of operatives required to move each unit, the new process allowed units to be fitted at a greatly improved rate, increasing from an anticipated 4.5 units per day per team (using a traditional floor mounted crane) to an impressive peak of 17 units. These combined benefits allowed the installation to achieve an accelerated programme, to the client’s great delight.
Clive Everett, FGS’ Design and Technical Director, said: “One Bedford Avenue was a development which presented us with a complex set of constraining parameters, requiring the design team to respond with an innovative and bespoke solution. A clear understanding of the client’s needs, combined with good communication and a collaborative attitude were key to ensuring that the installation was successful.
“In the end, not only was the installation itself a triumph, but our innovation-led approach to ticking all the project’s boxes had other positive results, such as increasing our rate of installation and enhancing safety. This sets a new precedent for the FGS contracting division – going forward, we hope to be able to apply the processes we used on the One Bedford Avenue project to deliver similar benefits to future installations.”