Studwelders Composite Floor Decks won the contract to supply over 5000m2 of MetFloor 60 steel decking to the Engineering North building on Swansea University's Bay Campus.
The building will house the state-of-the-art £35M Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies Project (IMPACT), the cutting-edge research institute belonging to Swansea University's College of Engineering.
Swansea University is one of the UK’s leading universities for Engineering, and has developed numerous new technologies and innovative projects, including the Bloodhound SSC supersonic car. Following the relocation of their College of Engineering to the brand-new seafront Bay Campus, Swansea University is investing in a state-of-the-art £35M cutting-edge research facility, Engineering North, which will house the IMPACT (Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies) Project.
The innovative facility was designed by architects AHR, responsible for designing the neighbouring, recently-opened Computational Foundry. Gary Overton, director at AHR, said “We approached the design for IMPACT in a way that prioritised a multidisciplinary way of working throughout. The environment stimulates ingenuity by working with the people inside, embedding connectivity between core research areas so that the industry and academia feel like the spaces are encouraging them to work together as one. We’re delighted with the result and especially excited to hear about the inspiring work that will be taking place there.” AHR designed the facility to BREEAM Excellent standard, and incorporated many innovative and efficient techniques, technologies and features into the design, including extensive use of recycled materials, 85 photovoltaic solar panels, numerous nest boxes for swifts, swallows and bats, and a 114 square metre ‘living wall’ on the building frontage, containing approximately 5500 plants and flowers. In keeping with the aesthetic of the wider ‘collegiate’ campus, the façade of the building consists of precast concrete panels and red brick walls. The facility consists of 3 areas – a research office building, a laboratory and a workshop block, all linked by a central atrium. The workshop roof is saw-toothed, industrial, and metal-clad, whilst the much of the remainder of the building is covered in glass.
The main contractor for the project was Kier, who appointed Chepstow-based Studwelders to supply and install over 5000 square metres of MetFloor 60 steel decking, thousands of CSC composite shear connectors, and safety netting in accordance with UKMDA recommendations and FASET guidelines. The steel decking and shear connectors were manufactured by CMF. CFD group recently developed their own, in-house range of steel shear studs, the CSC Composite Shear Connectors, which have larger flux balls suitable for through-deck studwelding, in accordance with industry standard BS EN ISO 13918:2018. MetFloor 60 steel decking was also developed in the recent past by the CFD group in a modern, long-span, trapezoidal profile, designed to exceed the spanning capabilities of traditional steel decking profiles. When complete, the IMPACT centre will collaborate with companies working in the metal industry in a similiar way to how steel shear studs and steel decking were originally developed, to help design and construct the steel-formed construction materials of the future.
The IMPACT facility will employ engineers, metal and numerial technologists and material scientists specialising in five core research themes: Future Manufacturing Technologies, Next Generation Materials Property Measurement, Advanced Structural Mechanics, Vapour Deposition Cluster, and Metal Technology Centre. IMPACT hopes to form research partnerships with industry, including international and global firms, as well as encourage collaboration and cooperation between different disciplines, in order to produce world-leading research output. One aim is to pioneer new alloys, materials and metal manufacturing processes which can be used in engineering. This is assisted by its proximity to Tata Europe’s Port Talbot Steelworks. The centre will employ 65 academics and 155 researchers, and will contain 80 single-occupancy offices, a hub space for co-operation between the researchers and a 1600m2 open plan lab space in the 6000m2 facility. The semi-autonomous institute was completed in June 2019, and is set to open at the end of the year.