When the industry leading, and FTSE 250, student accommodation provider Unite announced plans for its latest development in Coventry, the curved, complex shape of the building – as well as the restrictions of a confined location, meant that the project would require a bespoke solution. As such, light gauge structural steel specialist voestalpine Metsec plc was chosen – delivering its Metframe system to meet the building’s design and performance requirements. Furthermore, with panels manufactured off-site – this was crucial in helping to streamline the build process and reduce activity on the busy, restricted site.
Unite operates over 125 sites across 25 key university cities and towns in the UK. The latest development on Far Gosford Street, known as Gosford Gate, will be home to 286 students and is a key part of a long-term regeneration programme in the Coventry area. The site combines studio living spaces with communal study, social and utility areas and will help satisfy the growing demand for student accommodation – with over 20,000 students now enrolled at Coventry University.
Led by main contractor Bowmer & Kirkland, the process of constructing a facility to host a large number of students within a restricted urban area required the full design and engineering capabilities of Metsec. In addition to the logistical issues of working in a congested location, the complex design required a number of bespoke elements, to ensure that the framing solution accommodated the number of curves on the building. These challenges were met using Metsec’s innovative framing solution, which combines precision engineering with a concise delivery and installation process.
The Metsec team produced essential engineered designs for its Metframe system to construct the upper levels of the building. Metframe is a lightweight panelised solution, ideal for medium-rise buildings. The panels are manufactured off site and faceted around the curves on the building. This precision engineering helped to avoid waste on site, limit the cost to the customer as well as help to reduce the project’s overall environmental impact. The Metframe system also provided a practical solution for the complex and confined development by reducing the amount of work required on site – with framing delivered in the correct erection sequence for a streamlined installation process.
Delivering the project within these challenges required clear collaboration from the supply chain. Angela Mansell, Operations Director at Mansell Finishes commented: “As one of Metsec’s preferred installers, we have benefitted from a close partnership for many years and this was particularly crucial to the success of this installation.
“This project represented many design and installation challenges. We worked closely with Metsec to ensure that we met the specific requirements of the project – particularly the difficult curved wall and corners of the building. Maintaining clear communication meant that we could ensure a high quality solution was manufactured, delivered and installed efficiently and effectively.”
Ryan Simmonds at Metsec commented further on the challenges of the Gosford Gate project: “When designing the framework, we had to consider both pitched and flat areas of the roof. Areas of the framework also needed to be faceted to accommodate the building’s curved corners. The use of BIM was crucial to ensure we could visualise the interfaces and ensure our teams would not face any issues on site when it came to installation. From the design and planning phase, we worked collaboratively with the architect, integrating our BIM model into theirs, allowing them to co-ordinate their own model and other following trades.”
“The use of our off-site capabilities was also a significant advantage for the project as our Metframe panels were built with complete accuracy and delivered to site in the correct erection sequence – with no further modification required.”