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Vaulted concrete ceiling – new opportunities with DELTABEAM®

Firmdale Hotels as a developer and main contractor has built an innovative seven-story office building, 9-11 Richmond Buildings, in the heart of Soho, London, UK. The building consists of a ground-floor lobby and cafe, three vast floors of office space, two luxury apartments, and a top-floor entertaining space and terrace. The building of approximately 1,478 m2 opened in the spring of 2022. Peikko’s DELTABEAM® was an ideal solution for the challenging vaulted ceiling.

The 9-11 Richmond Buildings are located close to six underground lines, with Heathrow City airports and the city's business district being within easy reach. It was originally a post-war development that ultimately ceased to positively contribute to the area's character and appearance. However, the site offered great potential for a new building that would repair the street frontage, add to the mix of uses, and complement the architecture of the adjacent buildings. The building has since undergone complete redevelopment, with the demolition of the original building commencing in the summer of 2018. The design by architects Allies & Morrison was influenced by the Georgian houses typical of the Soho area. The project’s structural engineer was David Dexter Associates.

One of the most eye-catching design details of the new building is the attractive façade of green architectural terracotta tiles. Internally, vaulted ceilings follow the curve of each vaulted window on the 1st to 4th floors, which was achieved by using concrete GRP formwork and Peikko’s DELTABEAM®. The expansive open-plan office accommodations with floor-to-ceiling double-glazed windows can be configured in a variety of ways to align with the requirements of a modern office.


Challenging structures and demanding engineering work

The design required a vaulted ceiling with no down stands that utilized a steel frame with a high fire rating, along with the short lead time and challenging site logistics. These were the key issues when the Structural Engineer Jo Smith of David Dexter Associates started to approach the project of the 9-11 Richmond Buildings. Having heard of Peikko’s DELTABEAM®, a versatile slim floor solution for open spaces, she contacted Peikko to find answers to the available questions. Finding a suitable ceiling-to-floor solution was the key to the project, and with Peikko’s proven calculations and engineering work, the vaulting issue was solved. The opportunities and open space offered by the long beams further eased the project. Being easy to install, DELTABEAM® was an ideal solution that sped up the construction project remarkably.

“The DELTABEAM® solution was chosen as we were looking for a way to span the 9.5 m space in a single span, supporting exposed vaulted concrete slabs whilst maintaining the required headroom. The exposed concrete vaults were an integral part of the architectural design. We suggested the use of DELTABEAM® Composite Beams following a CPD presentation on hybrid concrete construction. The decision to use in-situ construction rather than the usual precast was driven by the limit on the size of the crane we could use without oversailing the adjacent buildings. This meant that there would be a joint in the exposed soffits, but with in-situ concrete, cast to a high standard of finish, we could achieve the effect without the joints. The project was shortlisted for the 2022 Concrete Society Awards.

DELTABEAM® Composite Beams turned out to be the ideal solution for our building. From the initial inquiry through to the final construction, Peikko was part of the design team and made suggestions to ensure that our design was fully coordinated with theirs, ensuring that construction on site went smoothly, including advice on connection design. This was especially true given that the fabrication and construction phase of the project was carried out during the first COVID lockdown”, Smith recalls.

Michael Scott, DELTABEAM® Sales Manager at Peikko UK Ltd. explains: “As demonstrated during more than 30 years of building history, DELTABEAM® is truly a versatile solution that can be used for any kind of building from congested city centre sites to large open brown or green field sites, and from new build to restoration.”

The project experienced various challenges, such as groundwork obstructions and pandemic delays. However, the most challenging aspect was site logistics. Working within an extremely tight corner site with plenty of traffic, while trying to keep disruption to the area to a minimum required careful planning and scheduling. Here, Peikko worked with Duffy Construction Ltd., which was the installation sub-contractor responsible for the smooth execution of the logistics.

“Due to site restrictions, Peikko’s DELTABEAM® Composite Beams were kept at a holding yard on the outskirts of the city and delivered in smaller batches. In this way, the customer could have the correct beams on site just when they needed them,” notes Anastasia Tornesaki, Sales Engineer at Peikko UK Ltd.

The 9-11 Richmond Buildings were also shortlisted for the 2022 Concrete Society Awards. The annual Concrete Society Awards celebrate excellence in concrete and are the longest-running awards event in the UK construction industry, with over 400 members, guests, and industry representatives attending the awards dinner.

‘’The DELTABEAM¨ solution was chosen as we were looking for a way to span the 9.5 m space in a single span, supporting exposed vaulted concrete slabs whilst maintaining the required headroom.’’

This article has been originally published in Connections 2023 customer magazine. You can find more Peikko's customer magazines here: Connections customer magazine