Speedy Steel for Sustainable Affordable Housing

// the building envelope

After a long period under the radar, the shortage of housing supply has moved back into the spotlight thanks to the combination of rising prices and stagnant real wages.

Though only recently drawing widespread attention, it has been clear for some time that housing supply is not keeping pace with demand.

Estimates put the need for additional housing in England at between 232,000 to 300,000 new units per year , a level not reached since the late 1970s and two to three times current supply.

At the forefront of creating affordable housing, the UK’s biggest social landlord Sanctuary Group recently added an innovative scheme of 66 energy efficient apartments for rent and shared ownership as well as retail units to its portfolio of 100,000 quality affordable homes and accommodation units across England and Scotland.

Sanctuary Group faced challenges in the £13.6 million project from the space restriction and overall time pressures of the project. The development on a tight inner-city site in Wood Green, London, called for a compact pre-fabricated framing solution.

Because the building site was restricted for space due to surrounding residential and commercial buildings, main contractor Bennett Construction and accredited Metsec installer Atkin Trade Specialists opted for a framing solution fabricated offsite.

Metsec’s pre-panelised Metframe system was selected to solve the spatial challenge and contributed to the speedy construction of the medium-rise building.

The Metframe System allowed Atkin Trade Specialists to pre-build panels off-site in time for installation as soon as Bennett Construction released each section of the substructure. Crucially, the ‘just in time’ manufacture of all framing members required for the load-bearing structure of Sanctuary Group’s new two to six storey building removed spatial concerns and kept the site tidy.

The Metframe system scores highly on cost saving when compared against timber and volumetric construction, with no compromise on quality. Cost savings are also achieved in many projects 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 appeals from an environmental as well as quality and cost-saving point of view.

Jeff Harris, Director at Atkin Group, explains “Typically, low to medium rise apartment blocks like these are made from concrete structures infilled with steel, or they are masonry constructions. But here the entire structure uses steel and it makes sense: The pre-panelised framing is quick, accurate and predictable, which leads to consistently good results at a considerably shorter installation time, and what’s more it is an environmentally sound system that achieves high ratings within the Code for Sustainable Homes.”

The speed and ease with which Metsec’s pre-panelised Metframe was erected satisfied Bennett Construction’s tight construction programme and resonated with Atkin Trade Specialists, who instructed Metsec to produce the detailed structural design and construction drawings using BIM. Located in the heart of the industrial West Midlands, Metsec is the first cold roll forming company to be certified BIM Level 2 for design and manufacture by the BSI.

As projects have become more and more complex, requiring firms to manage and share immense amounts of data across diverse and distributed teams, BIM Level 2 improves accuracy, efficiency, and productivity, resulting in time and cost savings.

Ryan Simmonds, Sales Directors for Metsec Framing explains “We can provide value engineered solutions that de-risk the design process, increase efficiency and pinpoint where savings can be made. Ultimately it’s good news for all, meaning subcontractors have a better standard of tenders, clients receive the best performance, quality and value – and the project delivery team benefit from a profitable job.”

The first Metframe building was completed in Norfolk in 1984 and 30years on, Metframe is now a well-established solution to provide the load bearing structure for low to medium rise structures with certification for up to 15 storeys in height, with scope for flexibility in design, making it ideal for residential, social housing or student accommodation.

For more information please visit www.metsec.com.

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