The association for the manufacturers of architectural cladding and structural precast concrete

For any company in the construction industry, being involved in a prestigious headquarters building for a high-profile client provides an invaluable opportunity to display its wide range of skills. For Decomo, the chance came when Knight Harwood, main contractor for the new international headquarters of world-renowned auctioneers Bonhams – a building opened in October 2013 at 101 New Bond Street – appointed the company to design, manufacture and install more than 200 off-white acid-etched columns, spandrels, cladding panels and copings, together with the plinths faced with Portuguese granite and the associated handset thresholds and cills. Some slender granite ‘battens’ were also procured and post-fixed into rebates within some of the acid-etched elements before delivery to site.














Furthermore, the use of this area had to be shared/coordinated with the positioning of a UNIC mini-crane/floor crane, which Decomo had brought in to compensate for the non-availability of the tower crane for much of the installation works. Temporary steelwork beams had to be introduced to support this crane. The order of loading/unloading the delivery vehicles had to be carefully planned to ensure that the elements could be transferred to storage on the roof in an order to suit subsequent installation sequences. Where possible, it was arranged so that the elements were sent in stillages to facilitate lifting several elements at a time onto the roof, thus further reducing demand on the tower crane, which unavoidably had to be used for much of the unloading activities.


Another example of Decomo’s innovative and flexible approach to the project was its adoption of Saturday working instead of two weekdays so as to optimise usage tower crane usage for installing the precast components and to reduce the demand this placed. As a result, it was possible to maintain the originally agreed programme for the installation works, which began in January 2013 and were effectively completed in May 2013 with a brief return visit in September to install some of the granite thresholds/cills.


The design team and main contractor masterminded the works to ensure that the auctioneer’s gavel could continue to fall throughout the three-year build period. The boring of two Crossrail tunnels directly under the site had to be given much consideration and became a major programme factor, as did traffic restrictions imposed throughout the 2012 Olympic Games.


From a Decomo perspective, significant challenges were faced by the congested nature of the site and the limited availability of the site tower crane. The Haunch of Venison Yard was barely large enough to receive a single delivery vehicle at any one time. Accordingly, all deliveries had to be timed for arrival on a ‘just in time’ basis, while also allowing for the traffic management restrictions that were imposed. Owing to the fact that deliveries, by multiple

trades, were required during the same period, off-loading had to be carried out swiftly. This presented a logistical conundrum as there was virtually no ground-level storage available – the only space was a very small area to the Spur Building roof that could be used for this purpose.

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British Precast Architectural and Structural, part of British Precast.                                                                                                                                                              

British Precast is the trade association for the precast concrete industry                                                                                 E-mail:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tel: (0116) 232 5170

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