Arts University Bournemouth has more than 3,000 students and is growing each year. Identifying a need for additional student accommodation in the area, ASN Capital who act as both residential and commercial developers and landlords, had a plot on Bath Road in Bournemouth where it had planning permission to build a halls of residence. Delivering the project as the main contractor, ASN Capital wanted to maximise project efficiencies by sourcing the fewest packages possible.

The footprint of the plot was small, and the planned building was complex, with a curved front façade and a staggered shape to the rear. ASN Capital selected Atkin Trade Specialists to deliver the installation and after reviewing the options, together selected Metsec’s Metframe as the offsite framing solution for the building.

The Metframe solution is pre-panelised off-site to reduce time on-site and increase the overall speed of build; ideal for ASN Capital’s ambition to complete the project as soon as possible. In fact, thanks to the speed of Metframe construction, the erection of the superstructure took less than 13 weeks, halving the time a standard build would have taken.

A major factor in reducing the time needed for the build was that in addition to the frame, the stairs and lift shafts were integral to the Metframe system and were installed as each floor was constructed. This removed the need for additional contractors to fit the stairs and lifts at a later date, and instead everything was completed concurrently using Metsec’s off-site solution.

Having an integrated solution also meant a single point of contact for a significant amount of the build.

Amir Sadeh, of ASN Capital, said: “Our priority was to move the project along swiftly and efficiently. We reviewed multiple solutions that were available to us and selected Metframe as it was ideal for what we needed.

“We had a small plot and a tight time frame and Metsec’s solution allowed us to deliver everything to deadline.”

The 2,610sqm halls of residence at Bath Road has a concrete basement housing a communal room and bike store, a ground floor including a lobby, built partially using Metframe, and eight storeys above ground housing all 84 en-suite accommodation studios for students, entirely built from Metframe.

Jeff Harris, from Atkin Trade Specialists, said: “The building is BIM compliant, designed in a 3D environment which gave ASN Capital a very clear simulation of what each part of the building would look like. In using Metframe, with panels delivered to site in the required erection sequence, the project has zero waste therefore reducing the environmental impact. The overall quality and accuracy through designing in a BIM compliant project and using Metframe leads to material, time and cost savings.

“Having ASN Capital involved throughout and carefully reviewing the best solution for their project meant that they selected a time-saving and cost-efficient solution which gives high performance in terms of thermal, acoustic and fire protection.”

The Metframe solution was able to withstand a concrete roof on the building, which future-proofed the building, allowing an additional floor to be added at a later date if desired.
The Bath Road project used 77 tonnes of cold rolled steel and 15.5 tonnes of hot rolled steel.

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Palmerston School, based in Liverpool, provides education to 11-19 year olds with profound learning difficulties. Palmerston identified a need for a new school building as staff and pupils were hampered by the lack of outdoor space and modern learning facilities. The former Aigburth High secondary school site was selected on which to construct its new £7m facility.

The new T-shaped single storey building includes a sports and dining hall plus a new hydrotherapy and splash pool together with sensory learning spaces. There is also a five-a-side football pitch and four-lane grass running track around the pitch perimeter. The project started in April 2016 and is due for completion summer 2017 when pupils will move from the existing location in Woolton to Minehead Road in the Aigburth area of Liverpool.

Early Stages

Originally planned as a timber frame construction, the main contractor asked voestalpine Metsec plc to review the school design and see whether a load bearing steel frame solution (SFS) could be offered. Taking a consultative approach, Metsec was able to advise the main contractors on the layout, and worked in conjunction with installers, local company Mark One.

As the first tier 2 designer and manufacturer certified to BIM Level 2 for Design and Construction in the UK by the BSI, Metsec used its BIM capabilities within the design stages to provide detailed plans and costings. Metsec was required on-site from the start of the project, completing the steel framing in the summer of 2016.

Designing the SFS solution for Palmerston School using Revit, Metsec attended regular main contractor team meetings with the BIM model, allowing any issues to be resolved in advance of the build. By using BIM, the project benefitted from a reduced timing programme and no waste, both providing subsequent cost savings.

Design Requirements

The blueprint of the school building presented several structural challenges, but were all incorporated into the BIM model from Metsec, including the design aspects of the roof. Studs within the joisted roof were extended out to overhang the external walls in order to create the overhang desired. Another roofing design requirement within the structure was a duo pitched roof. To enable the sloping element, Metsec used longer stud sections of a high gauge to accommodate the longer spans required and the larger load placed on the studs.

The school has invested in a substantial server room, in order to house the complex technologies being implemented into the school, which required a large number of ducts. This needed a substantial amount of openings within the wall which Metsec incorporated into the specification.


Metsec’s engagement in the project from the early stages meant it could provide bespoke, flexible solutions integral to enabling the complex design aspects desired by the client.
Steve Williams, director at Mark One, said: “Working alongside the manufacturer from the early stages of the project meant that we could work in conjunction with Metsec in designing and delivering the additional design requirements, and it was a smooth running project all round.

Ryan Simmonds, sales director of framing at Metsec, said “Palmerston School was an interesting project from a design perspective and, in using BIM, all parties benefited from a central model that could be amended and revised throughout the early stages to produce an accurate plan during the delivery stages.”

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Founded nearly 65 years ago, CATS College is an innovative independent education provider with four campuses across the UK and USA, and provides residential education to students studying GCSEs, A Levels and International Baccalaureates. With the continued success of CATS College and its growing number of students, the Canterbury campus identified the need to expand its accommodation facilities as well as its social and catering spaces.

A new student accommodation block was commissioned to offer 87 en-suite rooms, a café, common room and flexible social areas for the students. The project had a tight timeline to ensure a handover date to coincide with the academic year, and needed to be completed within just 14 weeks, so speed of build was paramount.

Another key consideration of the project was the design. With CATS College’s prestigious locations and buildings, it was important that the features of the new building complemented the existing architecture and blended in.

Atkin Trade Specialists was awarded the framing element of the contract, and used voestalpine Metsec plc’s Metframe solution to overcome the complex structural design challenges as well as achieve the tight timescales. Metframe is a pre-panelised system which is used to provide the load bearing structure for low to medium rise structures. The system uses stud, track and zed ledger sections which are bolted together off site to form panels providing the benefit of speed of build, with Metframe structures regularly taking under two weeks per floor to construct. Each structure is bespoke to allow flexible architectural design as well as to complement the surrounding buildings on campus. The building design incorporated several traditional features such as large bay windows with castellation, feature stone-work and mansard roofs, inspired by the existing architecture of the adjacent buildings.

The complex mansard roof configuration had multiple valleys and hips that needed to be incorporated into the design and the flexibility of the Metframe solution meant that the roof for the project could be formed using steel. It’s a competitive solution; rather than needing to commission a second company to design and form a roof, Metsec could supply one package, including a steel roofing solution, which added value and provided significant time savings to the project.

Inside, the building was designed to be future-proof. Internal walls were left out in the build to provide flexibility and enable rooms to be opened to form larger ones if required. This element had to be accounted for in the design and hot rolled steel beams were integrated into the design to provide this flexibility.

The detailing process involved in the design began with the import of the architectural CAD modelling into a bespoke 3D environment. This determined all setting-out and allowed structural components to be fully modelled in this environment. In turn, this enabled Metsec to precisely manufacture all of its components according to the agreed design. Manufactured at its UK facilities to the design specified lengths, even the holes in the product are punched that are required for both off-site panel assembly and on-site final build. Atkins selected the Metframe solution for its ability to be prefabricated off-site enabling the onsite construction to be completed by only five personnel in just 13 weeks, a week ahead of schedule.

The CATS College project demonstrates a broad range of environmentally friendly material and processes. The cold rolled steel used in Metframe offers an excellent strength to weight ratio meaning that not only did the project require less steel overall, but the lightweight structure required shallower foundations to be installed, providing material, time and cost savings. In addition, the structural components are manufactured to the precise length required reducing site waste.

James Gallear, of Atkin Trade Specialists, says “This project not only meets the client’s current design requirements, but it exceeds them by providing a future-proof solution.

“The modern design provides flexible additional space for the college, coupled with the architectural reflection of existing buildings on campus meaning that it blends in with the style of the surroundings buildings.”

Ryan Simmonds, sales director of Framing at Metsec, adds “This project challenges the common perception of the type of building which is suitable for off-site construction. With special design elements such as the mansard roof at CATS College, installers will often disregard the off-site option, but our project with Atkin Trade Group shows that off-site can not only be an efficient and cost-effective solution, it can also provide solutions to complex architectural designs.”

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voestalpine Metsec plc has launched its newest purlins product line, the wide flange purlin.

Metsec is first to market with the product after identifying a need in the claddings market for a flange with a wider surface for fixing to. Previously, cladders working on a project that required a larger fixing face would have to engineer a solution from existing products and work around the problem.

The introduction of this product means that the roofing contractor has an on-hand, bespoke, engineered solution which reduces the amount of materials and labour needed, as well as providing a cost saving.

Kevin Jones, sales director for Metsec Purlins, said “Our focus is on service and meeting our customers’ needs at all times. In speaking with our customers we realised claddings that needed a larger fixing face was a pain point for them, and so we developed our wide flange purlin product that would give an engineered, fit-for-purpose solution.

“By introducing this into the market, we aim to save both time and money for our customers as well as providing an easy-to-use solution that we hope will become the standard for claddings with larger fixing faces.”

The product will feature in Metsec’s new purlins brochure, the first major update for four years, due for release in spring 2017. The user-friendly brochure contains case studies to give examples of application and load tables for specifying solutions.

Designed to be more user-friendly, the brochure will be released to market at the end of May.

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voestalpine Metsec plc has announced its plans to offer five more apprenticeships, with applications now open until the end of June.

Having employed nearly 50 engineering apprentices over the last two decades, the Black Country-based firm is continuing its commitment to bridging the skills gap and developing the next generation of engineers with its renewal of the award-winning training scheme.

Steve Giles, environmental, safety and training manager at Metsec, said “As an organization, we heavily focus on skills and best practice. We’re actively working towards ensuring 20% of our workforce comes from apprenticeships, and this year’s applications are a further commitment to that figure.

“As a leading specialist in cold roll forming, we believe the way to maintain our position of strength in the market is by passing our knowledge down and what better way than to continue our focus on nurturing young talent with a new round of apprenticeships.”

The apprenticeship scheme has seen success for both Metsec and its staff since its inception in 1998, with employees now at managerial and even director level within the business having started their careers on the scheme. Successful apprentices will learn basic metal working skills in the first year, with the opportunity to continue onto an advanced apprenticeship and obtain an NVQ Level 3.

Metsec is one of the few engineering companies to run an in-house apprenticeship scheme without external support and has previously been named Express & Star’s ‘Apprentice Employer of the Year’ and ‘Business of the Year’ at the Business is Good for the Black Country Awards.

Applications for the Metsec apprenticeship scheme are open now until the end of June, for apprentices to start in September.

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voestalpine Metsec plc has provided its Metframe pre-panelised steel-framing product for a new Travelodge hotel on the Thetford Riverside Development in Norfolk. The use of modern methods of construction allowed efficiency savings to be made and ensured the initial build phase of the project was completed within budget and to tight deadlines.

Thetford Travelodge is a 62-room hotel and is part of a 41,000 sq ft redevelopment of the riverside area in Thetford, which will also see the construction of a three-screen cinema and five restaurants. Opened in Autumn 2016, the investment into modern retail and leisure facilities represents a key part of overall renovation plans for Thetford town centre.

Work on the project began in June 2015 with Metsec product installed onsite by approved Metframe installer Vietchi Interiors in just eight weeks between December 2015 and February 2016. The Metframe load bearing walls and concrete floors formed the top three storeys of the hotel building. The acoustic properties of the hotel’s building structure were an important factor in the design process to prevent sound travelling between rooms and having a negative impact on overall guest experience. The concrete floors specified as part of the Metframe design provided the high levels of acoustic insulation required.

Metsec was engaged early on in the tender process to help assess the foundation and loading requirements of the building, establish a value engineered plan and achieve any savings possible.

The Metframe solution was selected due to the structural efficiency of the system and manufacturing the product offsite contributed to a fast build, allowing that section of the project to be completed to a tight schedule. Value engineering the structure resulted in key savings. For example, reduced weight allowed the use of shallower foundations, which reduced the amount of materials required and the overall cost of the building. Metsec’s SFS in-fill walling was also selected for use on the adjacent cinema building.

Colin Kennedy, Managing Director at Vietchi Interiors said “With the Metframe product we were able to achieve exactly what the client required on time and within budget despite challenges presented by the winter weather and a location where access was limited by proximity to the river. Metframe was chosen for this project due to the greater stability and fire resistance of the system compared with alternatives such as a timber-frame kit construction.”

The pre-panelised Metframe system is a lightweight steel structure designed to meet the demands of the modern construction environment. The cold rolled sections are manufactured in precise lengths and the panels are then assembled off-site.

Stairs and lift shafts are an integral part of the Metframe system and are installed as each floor is constructed. This removes the need to rely on external scaffold for access to upper levels, providing convenience and added speed to the erection sequence.

Phillip Browne, Contracts Manager from Farrans Construction concluded: “The Thetford Riverside development required a high quality solution that would meet the required acoustic, fire and insulation u-Values. Metframe ticked all these boxes and represented a solution that could streamline the construction process while maintaining high levels of build quality. The build of the hotel went exactly as expected. It was simple and straightforward, the panels came straight off the delivery in the correct sequence and were lifted into place.”

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Image: (left to right) Gary Fenton, Global Product Certification Director at BSI, Alan Harris, Quality Manager voestalpine Metsec plc, Andy Butterfield, Product Certification, Director of Built Environment at BSI, Ryan Simmonds, SFS Sales Director voestalpine Metsec plc, Mark Basham, Managing Director, EMEA at BSI

The UK’s largest specialist cold roll-forming company, voestalpine Metsec plc, based in Oldbury, West Midlands, has been announced as the first tier two organisation globally to have achieved the new Kitemark PAS 1192-2 from BSI, the business standards company.

The Kitemark relates to BIM (Building Information Modelling), helping construction businesses around the world prove their capabilities in delivering projects at the design and construction phase. It is to act as a seal of approval for companies qualified to deliver projects at the design and construction phase of a project.

Established more than 80 years ago, Metsec provides steel framing, cable management and purlins for construction and manufacturing industries and has supplied its products to prestigious projects including the Queensferry Crossing, Resorts World and the Glasgow Velodrome.

Alan Harris, quality manager at Metsec, said: “Metsec was the first tier 2 designer and manufacturer complying with BIM Level 2 for Design & Construction in the UK and is pleased to cement this focus on BIM by achieving the new Kitemark associated with it. It’s great to see the importance of BIM being recognised, and being formalised by the BSI.

“BIM is an increasingly important part of the global construction market place, with governments around the world starting to make it a condition of contact. Seen as a game-changer for the construction industry, BIM is a collaborative way of working that uses digital technologies to enable more efficient methods of design and construction, ultimately driving out waste and inefficiency.”

The Kitemark has been developed in collaboration with industry stakeholders to ensure that they add value and address the key issues which will help the construction industry with BIM implementation.

Andy Butterfield, Product Certification Director of Built Environment at BSI said: “In a competitive marketplace, companies delivering BIM projects need to find a way to differentiate themselves, regardless of whether they are tendering for public or private sector projects. The BSI Kitemark does just that, helping companies to demonstrate their commitment to best practice.

“BIM helps companies drive out waste and inefficiencies in their projects, reducing costs and environmental impact. Having the Kitemark for BIM will mean that companies are able to build their business in the new era of digital technology and access global markets, giving clients reassurance that they are working with partners at the highest possible standard”.

The BSI Kitemark is one of the most recognizable trust marks in existence today and demonstrates that each Kitemark approved product or service, has gone above and beyond the normal requirements to achieve the highest standards. For over a century, it has safeguarded consumers and helped businesses demonstrate clear commitment to excellence across everyday goods such as locks and windows, gas appliances, motorcycle helmets and smoke detectors.

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Image: Mike Mearns, Commercial Director at Mechanical & Electrical Fixings Ltd

Mechanical Electrical Fixings (MEF) has announced the opening of its 15,000sq ft. distribution centre in Santry, Dublin to meet increasing demand for Metsec products in Republic of Ireland.

Established thirty years ago, the Edinburgh-based wholesaler MEF has worked with Metsec for the past decade and is one of the largest stock-holders of Metsec cable management products in the UK.
Earlier this year, MEF acquired a Belfast base to serve the market in Northern Ireland, but with increasing demand for Metsec’s products, decided to open a further distribution centre in Eire.


Richard Allen, general manager at Metsec, says: “We have been receiving enquiries from Ireland for quite some time and were struggling to meet demand. Shipping products over from mainland UK was proving time consuming and costly, so we weren’t as competitive as we could be.

“Thanks to MEF’s extensive distribution centre in Dublin, coupled with the existing Belfast site, we can now get our products to customers more quickly and it makes our products attractive to the Irish market.”

Mike Mearns, commercial director at MEF, says: “The Republic of Ireland is going through a boom time with the Irish government attracting major technology investment and we’ve seen a large number of big players in the data centre industry recently building or expanding facilities in Ireland.

“These data centres require a substantial amount of cable management products, including trunking, trays and both pre- and post-galvanised ladders. The new distribution centre means we can provide the Metsec products to these customers quickly and at a very competitive price.

“We at MEF are very excited about this new venture, stocking further Metsec cable management products in Ireland to meet the contractors’ requirements,” Mearns concluded.

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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.”

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Productivity, collaboration, innovation and skills are the cornerstones of the government’s most recent construction strategy, published in March this year, and still reflects the 2013 joint approach from government and industry. The Construction 2025 ambition focuses on erecting buildings that create less emissions, can be delivered quickly and cost less to build and run over their lifetime.

resorts-world-at-nec-birmingham-uk-webOne company that shares the Construction 2025 vision is voestalpine Metsec plc. Located in the heart of the industrial West Midlands, it is the first cold roll forming company to be certified BIM Level 2 for design and manufacture by the BSI – a key element of the national strategy.

BIM Level 2 improves accuracy, efficiency, and productivity, resulting in time and cost savings. Ryan Simmonds, Sales Director for Metsec Framing explains:

“BIM has really changed the way we approach building design – it’s a crucial design tool to ensure the client receives the best performance quality and value for money. With buildings becoming more complex, planning drawings simply don’t provide enough information and manufacturers must always be at the table in the early stages to get the best long-term response.”

The modern construction market is not just about BIM but also methods of construction which enable cost, waste and time savings.  Once again, Metsec is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to offsite construction methods – its first Metframe building was completed in Norfolk in 1984.

Thirty years on, Metframe is now a well-established solution to provide the load bearing structure for low to medium rise structures certified for up to 15 storeys in height, with scope for flexibility in design, making it ideal for residential, hotels, social housing or student accommodation.

Metframe structures can incorporate steel joisted or concrete floors, depending on the client’s requirements. Joisted floors offer a much lighter structure, but concrete floors generally provide a higher level of acoustic and fire protection. Pitched, dormer or flat roofs can be readily incorporated into the system as well as balconies, cantilevers and insets.

As well as flexible design, the Metframe system scores highly on cost saving when compared against timber and volumetric construction and there is no compromise on quality. Cost savings are also achieved through the speed of build that the system allows, with Metframe structures regularly taking less than two weeks per floor to construct. Coupled with the energy efficiency and zero waste offered by these buildings, it is not surprising to see so many high profile developments adopting the Metframe system.

Genting UK turned to Metframe for the construction of its £150m Resorts World development in Birmingham. Built by main contractor Galliford Try, the unique 55,000sqm leisure and entertainment complex boasts a hotel, spa, casino, 50 retail outlets, a wide range of restaurants and bars and a multi-screen IMAX cinema.

Metframe was chosen as the structural solution to enable quick and efficient construction of the top three storeys of the complex. The three-storey structure forms a 178-room, four-star boutique hotel and spa facility with five-star suites on the top floor, which caters for delegates and visitors to the 900 events that are held at the National Exhibition Centre annually as well as leisure guests visiting the West Midlands region.

As Metframe is assembled offsite to form easy-to-erect panels, the full frame could be delivered to the contractor in the required erection sequence and simply bolted together on-site.

Steve Milward, Design Manager at Galliford Try explains the benefits of using Metframe for the Resorts World project: “Due to the lightweight nature of the joisted floor solution within the Metframe system, Metsec was able to deliver a frame that fitted within the strict criteria of the supporting structure below. Also, a huge benefit for the project was the speed of installation. By using Metframe, we could easily manage the build in phases to ensure structural soundness throughout the process.”

Thomas Atkin of Atkin Trade Specialists, who installed the Metframe system, comments: “In total, the construction of all 178 units took just 16 weeks, which is highly impressive for a build this big. Metsec worked closely with us to produce a 3D design of the hotel structure for Galliford Try, which enabled us to plan the works and stick to the contractor’s construction programme.”

Richard Allen, Marketing and Business Development Director at Metsec added: “As a Black Country-based business, we are incredibly proud that we were able to supply a cost-effective and highly manageable solution for the landmark project at the NEC. Metframe is an extremely competitive solution, which delivers a high quality building. Therefore, it was the perfect choice for the construction of the new 4-star boutique hotel at the Resorts World complex.”