Southbank Place 4A & 4B Case Study

Client:   Canary Wharf Contractors

Contractor:   Permasteelisa

Architect:   Squire and Partners

Location:   Lambeth, London

Balconies:   128

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Southbank Place is a development by Braeburn Estates, the Canary Wharf Group and Qatari firm the Diar Real Estate Investment Company. All of the partners are renowned for their portfolio of landmark architectural projects and Southbank Place is no exception to the rule. Towers 4A and 4B are the latest additions to the site, bringing even more spectacular residential property to this world-class development. Sapphire was commissioned to manufacture and supply the balconies for this exciting new project, which had unique design challenges.

The Wider Project: Southbank Place

Positioned on the banks of the Thames, Southbank Place is a mixed-use scheme that frames the existing Shell Tower. Incorporating public space, retail, and apartments with some of the most spectacular views of London, this development is set to be some of the most desirable real estate in the city.

The site was formerly used for the Festival of Britain, a national exhibition held in 1951 with the goal of boosting morale and cultural pride in the wake of the Second World War. Today, these historical references are subtly incorporated into the buildings and their surroundings.

Towers 4A & 4B

The latest addition to Southbank Place are towers 4A and 4B, which add more residential units to the sprawling site. Designed by Squire and Partners, these towers will provide unrivalled city-centre living. When interviewed by The Architect’s Journal, Michael Squire of Squire and Partners said, “We make no apology, this is a dense development, it sits next to one of the busiest train stations in Europe. This is a massive sustainable move that will allow people to live and work in the same area.” Furthermore, the development also includes affordable homes and assisted living in beautifully designed riverside towers.

The Challenge

A key challenge for this project is that each tower features a unitised façade. Essentially, this means that the building envelope is manufactured offsite in one complete piece, which saves time and space when installing onsite. Every aspect of the façade is pre-fabricated, including fixings and opening vents. However, this means that the specification for the balconies and arms have to be very precise to interface successfully with the façade’s pre-fabricated stubs. As such large, complex pieces are fabricated by an external partner, tolerances are tight and stakes are high.

A further challenge was the project’s location. Southbank Place has limited aspect due to its position on the banks of the River Thames. Equally, the central London location means that there was very limited space on-site, so balconies had to be manufactured and stored offsite until exactly the right moment.

The Solution

In response to the demand for ease and precision, we designed, manufactured and supplied balconies using our Glide-On™ Cassette® system. Glide-On™ balconies have a higher tolerance than traditional bolt-on designs, which is essential when working with unitised façades. Furthermore, due to the slab size and unitised connection, bespoke anchors were specially designed and cast for the development. Equally, the balcony arms were designed in one piece to fit precisely into the unitised façade and we supplied bespoke balustrades on the modular balconies to meet the client’s exacting requirements.

In line with the project’s offsite production model, the balconies were manufactured offsite and lifted in floor by floor and secured in place as the rest of the building envelope was completed. This was done directly from the lorry onto the arms, effectively negotiating the building’s riverside location and the site’s limited space. This mitigated the need for scaffold, saving space, time, and money without compromising on safety.

Step 1: Bespoke stubs incorporating thermal break connections, offering superior rigidity to the balconies were supplied to Permasteelisa, the installation partner, for inclusion in the façade.

Step 2: Cassette® balconies were prefinished offsite, including the balustrades, decking and soffits.

Step 3: Cassette® balconies were transported with balconies ‘nested’ onto each pallet making transport both cost-effective & safe. Balconies were pre-slung offsite ready for installation upon arrival.

Step 4: Once the balconies arrived on site they were lifted into position directly from the lorry, then the Cassettes® simply Glide-On™ to the pre-erected support arms, before completing the simple mechanical fixings.

The Results at Southbank Place

The result was an elegant and easily installed addition to a stunning development. Complete with glass sides and bespoke railings, these rigid balconies make the most out of the towers’ sweeping views of the Thames, Houses of Parliament, the City of Westminster, and beyond.

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