PCE’s HybriDfMA Design Team Lead the Way in Offsite Engineering

PCE Ltd winning the ‘Best Use of Hybrid Technology’ at the 2020 Offsite Construction Awards with the University of Kingston Town House project gave deserved recognition to the company’s Design Team who had been responsible for the structural design and detailing of the HybriDfMA structure and its precast concrete, structural steel and insitu concrete elements. 

Following the appointment of PCE Ltd to provide the circa £8 million structure by Main Contractor Wilmott Dixon, the PCE Design Team developed the structural design for the stunning six storey building with an internal frame that incorporated over 1300 offsite manufactured structural components ranging from columns, cores, long span flooring and feature units.

Additional to this, the external architectural concrete colonnade, which is structurally independent of the main interior frame, included a further 500 reconstructed stone columns, beams and flooring units.

Collonade concept of University of Kingston Town House
PCEs University of Kingston Town House design
Collonade construction at University of Kingston Town House

The architectural design by award winning Grafton Architects required large areas of high quality exposed concrete finishes with structural connections between components being standardised as much as possible with aesthetically pleasing details to ensure that when constructed, the visual result was as they required.

As with all PCE’s HybriDfMA structures the Design Team had to consider more than just how the structure would support the pre-determined loadings and meet the architectural and structural design specifications. Ease of offsite component manufacture and on-site buildability considerations, as well as sustainability aspects at the design stage were also essential for the overall success of the structural frame and colonnade package, which was constructed on site in less than 12 months.

The PCE design team celebrates on hearing new of the Best Use of Hybrid Technology at the 2020 Offsite Awards

The PCE design team celebrates on hearing news of the Best Use of Hybrid Technology 2020 Offsite Construction Award.

The structural design was in accordance with all relevant Eurocode design codes along with the Steel Construction Institute publication P354: Design of Floors for Vibration: A New Approach, due to the vibration sensitivity of the feature stairs.

The PCE highly skilled and multi-disciplinary Design Team used a range of digital design and control software including SCIA Engineer (Finite Element Analysis), TEDDS (Structural Analysis), BIMSight (for viewing 3D models), SMART Footfall Analysis (vibration assessment), and Hilti PROFIS (anchor and fixing design), Revit and AutoCAD (for 3D modelling and component detailing).

All drawings and technical information being managed and issued via the PCE custom developed Asite cloud-based collaboration solution for information management.

PCE Design Engineer Alex Bryson commented

“This high-quality project required a high-quality design approach which we, as the structural design and detailing team, achieved. The project had some interesting structural complexities including 22tonne cantilevered precast concrete wall units, the very long span atrium staircase, long span flooring and roof solutions to cater for the large open areas and an area of the building used for sound equipment requiring significant vibration control measures. Complex design challenges which the PCE design and detailing team overcame by our combined determination to develop leading edge design solutions”.

PCEs stairs visualisation at The Town House
Stairs at PCEs Town House project
Completed stairs at Kingston University Town House

PCE Design Director Chris Powell added,

“PCE’s internal design resources have developed significantly over the past four years and what the team did with the Kingston project concerning the structural design and detailing was inspirational and phenomenal. I am very pleased that the project won the Offsite Explore ‘Best Use of Hybrid Technology’ award, it is a great compliment to the whole teams efforts and their offsite engineering knowledge and it provides a great stepping stone for the continued development to our clients of our technical expertise and offerings in the future”.

Recent PCE projects that have been designed and detailed by the PCE design team include Lancashire County Cricket club with Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, Vulcan Mill, University of Leeds, and Nottingham Police Custody, as well as carrying out the detailing and temporary works design and co-ordination for No6 East Village.