unitised facade system, Harbour Central, Premier Guarantee, Galliard homes,
© Galliard Homes

Premier Guarantee met with Galliard Homes, senior project manager, David Hughes, to discuss why they chose a unitised facade system for their development Harbour Central

As advocates of innovative systems and products, Premier Guarantee has supported Galliard Homes throughout this project with input from the dedicated High Value Projects Team.

Harbour Central consists of seven tower blocks all constructed in one phase and all with a unitised facade system.

Cost of Project: £270m
Costs of Facade System and Installation: £60m
Facade Contractor: Yuanda
Project Scope:

  • Prefabricated, high-performance unitised curtain wall system with opening vents, highly insulated aluminium extrusions and panels clad in a selection of premium rainscreen materials including glazed terracotta tiles, GRC and metal mesh.
  • Double glazed units with a high-performance solar control coatings bonded to the aluminium frames with structural silicone.
  • Prefabricated bolt-on cantilever and recessed unitised steel balconies have been used. Steel and toggle-glass stick curtain wall systems in the ground floor and entrance areas.
  • Glazed entrance systems, with powered doors.

Why did you choose a unitised facade system over a more traditional system?

Unitised systems lend themselves to high rise buildings for a multitude of reasons. They create a safer working environment as units are installed using a hoist from the inside of the building so no need for external access systems. This then significantly reduces the installation time as works can progress faster and on multiple levels reducing programme periods. It also reduces the number of different contractors needed to design, supply and install a wall panel which also reduces hand over and inspection interfaces that can, in turn, take up programme time.

Minimal material laydown areas are required as panels are loaded straight to the required floor level on a just in time basis. During the wall panel assembly there is less room for human error as each panel is made in a clean controlled factory environment and must go through a rigorous QA process ensuring a high-quality product.

What allowances did you have to make working with a unitised system?

Constructing facade systems using more traditional methods can allow for last minute design changes as modifications can be made onsite. However, this is not possible with unitised systems as the design has to be complete well in advance so that materials can be procured and shipped to the factory, for panels to be fabricated and assembled, and for QA checks to be completed before they can be shipped to site.

Many unitised fabricators are based overseas so shipping times need to be considered as well. This meant that a strict design programme had to be followed to minimise any site delays as for this project there is a 24 week lead time from when designs are signed off to the panels being manufactured and arriving onsite. As a consequence, the architectural designs must be ‘frozen’ well in advance so that they can be converted into builders work designs which are then sent to the factory to provide instructions for the order.

How did your programme lead in times compare with other projects using traditional facade systems?

For a traditional curtain wall project an 8 week lead in time is possible, but 12 weeks is more normal, however during the design period problems can arise. There is a lot of pressure on all the project teams to identify and resolve information gaps and clashes very quickly and to manage multiple specialist contractor design teams all at the same time, this can result in an environment that increases the risk for errors or oversights. This traditional method also introduces multiple trades, each having their own design responsibilities, responsibilities which have to be carefully managed so that they do not overlap.

How has unitised benefitted this construction project?

Using a unitised system has meant we’ve been able to make the building weather tight much quicker allowing the internal fit out programme to be accelerated, and for potential water damage to be mitigated.

Working with Yuanda we have been able to install 1 floor of 104 unitised panels in a week whilst simultaneously progressing another one. The standard programme period for each floor is 2 weeks therefore a tower of 20 storeys can be sealed off in 40 weeks.

Yuanda were responsible for the balconies which were unitised, so that each balcony unit included the lighting and associated wiring, decking and drainage. By including this in their package it was easier to keep track of what had been completed onsite and prevented other trades from damaging preceding tradeworks. This simplified Premier Guarantee’s warranty inspections because the integrity of the balcony unit was maintained right through all stages of the design and installation. Only the glass balcony handrail was installed separately.

What other packages did you add to facade contractor’s package, that you wouldn’t have normally?

As well as the balcony lighting and decking mentioned previous we also added the fire stopping, slab edge flanking acoustics and the vapour control layer and waterproofing packages into the facade package.


Premier Guarantee

Tel: 0800 107 8446



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