Extra Care With Tolerances Showcases Sapphire’s Balcony Skills

Fifty Sapphire balconies grace a six-storey ‘extra care’ facility – part of a  major new residential development on the outskirts of Reading, Berkshire.

Just two miles from Sapphire’s head office, the project is set to become a showpiece for successful solutions to balcony challenges and the need for tolerances. One of these is guaranteeing a bounce-free rigid structure: this is a hallmark of Sapphire’s products – a feature sure to be welcomed by future residents.

Designed for couples or singles over 55, the 73 spacious two-bedroom apartments for outright sale or shared ownership at Huntley Place provide a community lifestyle with 24-hour extra care available if needed. The property is managed by Home Group.

The building, designed by Broadway Malyan architects, is an integral part of the Green Park Village project, developed by the Berkeley Group’s St Edward division. The lakeside development also includes a variety of housing options, apartments, primary school and a transport interchange incorporating a new station on the Reading-Basingstoke railway line.

Challenges on the extra care project for Sapphire included a mix of straight and two-part angled protruding balconies as well as inset balconies, which were complicated by a tight fit with surrounding brickwork. To meet the client’s requirements and achieve the best solutions for the 50 balconies required, Sapphire was able to design in appropriate additional tolerances.

Sapphire’s Glide-On™ aluminium Cassette® balconies with Crystalframeless structural glass were specified. Anchors with thermal breaks were cast into the floor slabs and two-piece steel arms were attached.

Standard 400mm modular Glide-On™ Cassette® balconies were factory assembled with integral clamping system (for connection and tolerances), decking and soffit at Sapphire’s Winchester production facility. After passing strict quality control checks throughout the manufacturing process, the completed balconies were stored, ready for delivery to site on schedule.

On site, balconies were slid on to the galvanised steel arms by Sapphire’s innovative Counter Balance Lifter. This offsets the hook of tower or mobile crane, enabling balconies to be installed – as at Green Park Village – from the top down, while scaffolding is being struck. This helps to save time and cut building costs.

As with all Sapphire’s Glide-On™ installations, were able to fix each balcony to its arms in complete safety, working from inside the building. And as Sapphire balconies are delivered fully built, all that remains to be done is to replace the Enjura WPC composite decking sections over the fixing points.

All the balconies at the extra care facility have 21.5mm clear toughened laminated structural glass panels with a screen-printed obscure band to conceal the balcony frame. The glass is mechanically fixed to the Cassette® with bobbin point fixings, polyester powder coated to match the obscure band.

The panels are topped with 22x22mm U-shaped powder coated aluminium capping. Soffits are of polyester powder coated aluminium panels, free draining to the front of the balcony.

Fully modular construction of Sapphire balconies streamlines the installation process by avoiding the need for multiple trades on site. This means fewer people are involved so significant overall scheduling benefits are achievable.