Composite Metal Flooring was contracted to manufacture nearly 16,000m2 of MetFloor 55 and MetFloor 60 steel decking for BBC Wales' new state-of-the-art HQ in Cardiff.
Studwelders Ltd were the preferred contractor to install the metal decking, safety netting and shear studs on the busy city centre site. Studwelders Ltd employed different safety netting installation techniques to normal, due to the requirements of the project.
BBC Wales announced plans to sell their aging 1960s Broadcast House in Cardiff, in order to move into a more modern studio. Many of BBC Wales’ operations had already been delegated to other sites around the capital, so it was decided to relocate the HQ too. BBC Wales decided to build a £120 million HQ in Central Square, Cardiff, opposite Cardiff Central train station, and linked via fibre optics to the Principality Stadium. The building will have a floor area of 150,000 sq ft, and will have an open atrium, extending through the building, between the two blocks of studios; and will be open to the public.
The new building will have state-of-the-art studios, as well as capacity for Virtual and Augmented Reality technology for use in their television studios, as well as gardens on the 4th floor, for use during filming weather forecasts. Their new building will be half the size of Broadcast House, but a similar size to the BBC’s flagship studio in MediaCityUK, Salford.
Composite Metal Flooring manufactured 16,000 square metres of MetFloor steel decking. Both the re-entrant MF55 and the trapezoidal MF60 were manufactured for the iconic new studio. Manufacture of the steel decking took place in CMF’s production facility; only a few miles away from the construction site. Production began in October 2016, and lasted until March 2017. CMF also produced over 52,000 shear studs using their new shear stud manufacturing machine.
Construction in Central Square began at the end of 2015, and by 2016, Studwelders Ltd had been contracted to install MetFloor steel decking, shear studs and safety netting onsite. In October 2016, installation began. The metal decking and shear studs were laid over a lower mezzanine level, 4 main floors, and a roof level. Studwelders Ltd then laid concrete over the steel decking to create a lightweight composite flooring system for the building.
In installing the FASET-compliant safety netting required for the installation teams, in order to accomodate for the differences in floor level layouts and heights, different netting installation techniques were used. Specialist rigging, net claw-hook attachment and MEWP were used to achieve the installation on the unorthodoxly laid-out building. Netting installation was achieved quickly, allowing for Studwelders Ltd to complete their work in 6 months.
BBC took possession of the completed building in Spring 2018, and an extensive technology-driven fit-out of the building proceeded over the following 18 months, so that the first BBC administrative staff can move into the building in Autumn 2019, with all staff being transferred by Spring 2020.
The new, windowless studios are designed to be very open, to encourage staff from across departments to collaborate, and so that the public walking through the central atrium is able to see into the studios. The new studios will allow a faster changeover time between shows, and will be integrated with Virtual and Augmented Reality technology, to provide a more engaging broadcast to viewers. The building will boast a cable link to the nearby Principality Stadium, and will be fully equiped with live Internet Protocol (IP) technology; the first BBC building to be so. This next-generation plan for broadcasting in Wales is one of the BBC’s first steps to compete with its newer media rivals Netflix, Amazon and most recently, Facebook.
General contractors ISG recently won the 2019 Construction News Award for Supply Chain Excellence for this project. ISG cultivated an excellent, integrated supply chain with a collaborative approach up and down the line. ISG routinely engaged subcontractors early and helped them to understand the bespoke needs of the client, ensuring all the teams were working towards the same goal. ISG invested in an in-house facility called ‘The Academy’ to help train supply-chain partners. They also provided regular updates on their pipeline to help organise all the suppliers. ISG also committed to prompt payments in the project, paying all subcontractors in an average of 35 days. These efforts were crucial to ISG winning the CN Award.
These efforts were all the more admirable due to the complex M&E requirements of the build, and a challenging design that included the steel framework being exposed as a key design feature. To assist with this, ISG put M&E subcontractors CMB and Evans in direct consultation with the clients at an early stage to develop the design and make installation more efficient. Similar measures were put in place with the steelwork contractor. On top of this, ISG used VR modelling to fully understand the design, and executed the build such that the finished project achieved a BREEAM Outstanding rating; the highest possible commitment to the environment.
The new HQ will house 1200 staff when it is fully fitted-out, and will house 750 desks, as well as 1000 extra work spaces in meeting rooms around the new complex. The building will also house retail space and a coffee shop on the ground floor, and will also have room for staff from S4C, the Welsh language broadcaster, which is now partly financed by the BBC. The new, ground-breaking HQ, once fully operational in 2020, is hoped to have a direct or wider economic impact of £1 billion over the following decade.