United front on steel framing

// the building envelope

Technical Editor, Bruce Meechan, examines the credentials of a very versatile new system from Saint-Gobain – suitable for constructing medium rise, multi-occupancy properties.

This magazine has frequently carried case studies on the problems faced by those living with or attempting to refurbish the old BISF steel framed properties: which offered little protection from the cold in winter or merciless solar gain in the summer, while the stanchions slowly rotted away.

In recent decades, however, steel framing has rightly earned a reputation for rugged performance in all respects, as well as across multiple sectors: including education where it has enjoyed considerable success.

And now with the raw material having undergone significant price adjustment in world trading, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of building products has entered the market with a holistic building system that is ready made for social housing. 

Already with a strong reputation amongst specifiers for the supply of glazing systems, insulation, plasterboard, render systems, and other sustainable products, Saint-Gobain has launched a precision engineered, multi-faceted approach to light gauge steel framing; capable or rising to 18 metres in height. This means it can readily be employed for constructing medium-rise blocks of flats or other properties, with both strength and flexibility amongst the key benefits.

Crucially, though, thanks to the collaborative approach of Saint-Gobain as a group with Hadley Steel Framing, and the competence of its core brands – such as British Gypsum, Celotex and Weber – specifiers now have a single point of access to an integrated system with warranty: where all the parts are certified and present well proven track records. 

Saint-Gobain Habitat R&D Manager, Tom Cox told HA Magazine: “The system is mainly based on 1.2 mm gauge cold-rolled steel, though some elements may be heavier, depending on the loads, which will be calculated by our strategic partner, Hadley Steel Framing; and put into a BIM enabled object. And depending on the architect or client’s wishes, we will involve our various group companies with their fully certified packages.

“Specifiers can take reassurance not just from the 60-year warranty on the structure, and the individual product guarantees, but the fact we have worked with BRE and the Steel Construction Institute. The SCI is the lead certifier in this area and provides both system certification and sign-off on site.”

Three approaches to four façade types

Significantly, Saint-Gobain has conceived the steel system for use in four different types of walling application, also offering three different approaches to the construction or erection process – all supported by the availability of BIM modelling and standard junction details which have been rigorously assessed by the BRE.

Consultants and contractors can first of all choose between a stick-build approach or open panels which could be employed as a stand-alone structure or the infill for hot rolled and RC frame buildings. Then there are fully factory insulated, closed panels complete with sheathing and vapour check membranes; while in all cases racking loads are carried by diagonal bracing or transferred to elements such as lift cores. 

Tom Cox and his colleagues can then offer specifiers the choice of a full masonry façade with cavity, a rainscreen application, and two types of render solution: one where the insulation is fixed direct to the sheathing board, while the other provides a narrow drainage cavity as preferred by NHBC and other bodies.

As reported to us by Habitat Marketing Director for Saint-Gobain in the UK & Ireland, Stacey Temprell, the steel framing system attracted a lot of attention at the recent CIH show from social housing specifiers, who were looking for a one-stop building solution from a trusted large player. And Saint-Gobain also launched its publication: ‘great places to live – multi-occupancy building solutions’. The specification guide shows how the different approaches can be used for multi-occupancy projects. All support material can be found at www.greatplac.es

They offer building designers and other social housing sector professionals an insight into the company’s ideas on accommodation including student flats and care homes, as well as general use apartments.

For more information please visit www.saint-gobain.co.uk.

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