Taff Vale, Pontypridd

The project at Taff Vale was a £38m redevelopment of an existing shopping centre, where it was demolished and new structures put in place comprising of:

· Two new office blocks

· Striking gateway building incorporating a 21st century library

· Council customer contact point

· Cafe

· Community facilities

· New leisure and fitness centre

By regenerating the former shopping precinct, the scheme will rejuvenate the area further by reopening the river edge with an attractive riverside promenade. It will deliver substantial economic benefits that place Pontypridd as a strategically important town in the region by providing 14,693sqm of office space for over 1,000 people.

The office buildings will feature curtain walling, with the third employing a distinctive zinc cladding tile system. In addition to the principal buildings, the project also includes public realm and highway work, as well as basement parking and bike stands.

Our role as engineers on this project have included setting out and Quality Assurance. Some of the tasks included have been positioning steel, as-built checks and surveys.

Given the variation of levels and concrete gradients between buildings, our main focus early on in the project the was to ensure slabs were poured to the correct levels and upstands where curtain walling would be placed were positioned correctly. Several surveys were carried out and we simply overlaid this onto the design dwg’s using CAD where we could check for any errors.

Once the concrete slabs and cores were formed we had to produce several surveys to the highest degree of accuracy displaying the positions of the cast-in plates that had been formed in the cores. We created a 3D model that was sent off to the steelwork supply chain to finalise the correct connections required to ensure a smooth and efficient installation without delays caused by cast-in plate position errors.

With there being three main buildings the timings of these surveys were staggered as the project gained momentum, by the time the final surveys of the plates were complete the first building (building C) were installing the steel frame. Our role in this included setting out baseplate positions and levels, once the steel structure was in place we could carry out line and level checks ensuring that the baseplates were in the correct position and the verticality of the steel was inside the given tolerances. This process was repeated for the other two buildings, A & B.

Building C was a unique design and consisted of over 80 curved wooden panels secured by multiple, heavy duty galvanised brackets. Before these panels could be craned into position, we were tasked with setting out the bracketing onto the steel framework. The brackets would fit onto the outer curved steel supports (similar to a ribcage shape). Due to cylindrical columns, the brackets had collars that wrapped around the steel sections, positioning these precisely was critical because a glulam beam would sit on these as the support of the panels.

Once the steel structures were in place on each building the mezzanine floors could be poured. Once poured, we surveyed the slabs to determine the correct levels and record any deflection. Further to this, using precision equipment including mini prisms, we added gridlines so internal walls could be installed as well as curtain walling.

The intriguing building C was now ready for the final external layer to be applied, this consisted of approximately 600mm x 600m zinc panels that were designed by carrying out scans on the wooden battens. Around 6,000 panels would complete the finish and we were drafted in to set out half of these panels!

Towards the end of the project we were involved in setting out crane rigger positions for the removal of the tower cranes, this again was critical as we had to also had to calculate and set out prop positions below the road, in the basement. Further to this we carry out monitoring exercises throughout this process to ensure the retaining wall had not moved.

Finally, the external levels were left to complete, this included setting out planters and surveying levels of the footways between buildings as each layer was installed.

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