Willmott Dixon to use pre-WWII steel beams for office refit

Willmott Dixon to use pre-WWII steel beams for office refit

Willmott Dixon will reuse 100 tonnes of 1930s steel salvaged from the former House of Fraser on London’s Oxford Street for an office retrofit near Tower Bridge.

Developer FORE Partnership is removing the steel beams from the former department store, claiming it is the first time pre-Second World War steel would be used in a UK construction project, according to Construction News’ sister title, Architects’ Journal.

FORE said the beams were so old that they would bypass the usual protocols for reuse, which were designed for steel manufactured from 1970 onward.

The company secured a deal with Civic Engineers to reuse the House of Fraser steel, which in turn liaised with McLaren, the contractor on the House of Fraser building refurbishment.

More than 20 tonnes of steel beams have already been salvaged and FORE said it ultimately hoped to save 100 tonnes from the Oxford Street building, which will make up 20 per cent of the total steel in the new offices, named Tower Bridge Court (TBC.London).

According to FORE, this “urban mining” will save an estimated 48 tonnes of carbon dioxide when compared with the use of new steelwork – equivalent to driving a car around the Earth 50 times.

The company said the reclaimed structural beams would be used throughout the offices, and would be left visible in some parts of the building, “to educate occupiers and the wider public about the benefits of applying circular-economy principles”.

The remaining steel framing at TBC.London will contain at least 56 per cent recycled content. Installation of both the old and new beams will be carried out by contractor Willmott Dixon.

The office retrofit involves the existing five-storey building being stripped back and refurbished to create offices that will be net-zero carbon in operation and powered 100 per cent by electricity.

Architect Stiff + Trevillion is targeting EPC A and BREEAM Outstanding ratings in its design for the building, which FORE said “is aiming to be one of Europe’s greenest, healthiest buildings”.

The project is on site and scheduled for completion in 2024.

Basil Demeroutis, managing partner of FORE, said the company had “overcome false assumptions and perceived barriers” to reusing the steel, including that it was riveted and encased in concrete – an outdated method of fireproofing.

He added: “We think it will represent the largest percentage of a London office development made using reclaimed steel, and we are unaware of any other commercial project where the structure is made reusing 100-year-old steel.”

Gareth Atkinson, director at Civic Engineers, said the collaborating companies had proved that recycling steel was not too difficult, adding: “These types of deals can and should be brokered time and time again.”

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