Mabey combines BIM with propping system on complex Glasgow project

Engineering specialist Mabey is combining its unique propping system and BIM services to facilitate a complex new build development, incorporating the existing facade of a historic Grade I listed building in the heart of Glasgow’s financial district.

As part of the £500,000+ contract, Mabey is working in collaboration with BAM Construction for its clients BAM Properties and TCP Developments to provide a temporary propping system, which will hold up the building’s original and listed facade, while the construction of a new development takes place.

This will result in a combined building area of 284,000 sq ft of Grade A office space, ready for use in 2020.

The facade was supported by an existing facade retention system on its inside face, which was replaced by Mabey’s MASS 50 solution. This facade-retention system provides transitional building support on the building’s outside face as construction is finalised and the permanent supports are put in place over the next year.

Alongside retaining the historic facade, BAM Properties and TCP Developments and Glasgow Council required a solution which would avoid full road closures in a busy city centre location.

Mabey implemented a unique technique based on extensive previous facade propping experience, which reduced the width of the propping system, using the weight of the facade to create a seesaw arrangement and therefore avoiding the need for excessive kentledge.

It means one of Glasgow’s main city centre one-way road networks has remained open and running throughout the project.

Mabey’s facade-retention system provides transitional building support on the building’s outside face as construction is finalised

To aid this bespoke and technical project, Mabey is using its BIM solution, which includes the creation of a highly accurate 3D model to produce a digital representation of the 175-tonne facade retention system. Through this modelling software, Mabey could test in advance how its MASS 50 solution would work, monitoring for any potential clashes with the facade in advance, so measurements could be tweaked accordingly.

Through this, Mabey’s engineers and construction team in Garswood have made virtual “site visits” through virtual reality (VR) systems, using the information to keep the customer updated on a day-to-day basis and showing them via digital images how the propping system works. 

The more traditional and established approach would have used 2D drawings to assess how the retention system performs and holds under different propping arrangements. Mabey has demonstrated the benefits of this VR system to BAM Construction and saved several weeks that would have been spent travelling to and from Glasgow to see the site in person. 

Malcom Boyd, construction manager at BAM Construct UK, said: “One of the key challenges of this development is the replacement of the existing facade support to release the development site area, and for this to be done without damaging the existing facade, which forms part of Glasgow’s unique history.

“Due to its experience in this area, Mabey was able to provide a unique and quick solution which is enabling the development to progress without significant disruption to one of the city’s main road networks.

Dave Holland, engineering director at Mabey, commented: “Digital engineering is transforming the speed, safety and efficiency of delivering construction projects such as this. BIM played a key role in ensuring that all the parties involved in this project had a clear understanding of how our propping solution would work, whilst enabling us to make faster and more accurate calculations.”

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