HOWZAT! Sapphire’s offsite balconies set two new records at cricket club development

Sapphire’s pioneering offsite balcony solution is enabling fast-track installation of pre-assembled balconies for the first phase of a residential development at Essex County Cricket Club in Chelmsford. The first of two new records for Sapphire’s installation team, 36 balconies were installed to new apartments in just 10 hours, minimising crane time and associated site costs. The second of the new records was; complete balcony units, including glass balustrades and sub-deck, were manufactured offsite in Sapphire’s Reading production facility while connections were being completed to the building’s facade. During manufacture, Sapphire once again demonstrated its market leading capabilities by beating its own record for the number of balcony cassettes produced in a single day. Once on site, the individual 1.2m x 2.0m balcony cassettes simply ‘glide’ on to the pre-erected connection brackets.

The major transformation of Essex County Cricket’s home venue is being undertaken by the Club’s development partner, MCD, and Kier Construction. Senior Site Manager for Kier Build (Eastern) says Sapphire provided a highly professional service throughout the project and comments: “Their offsite balcony system proved to be really quick and efficient to install on site and I’d be more than happy to use it again.” Apartments completed so far are located at the ground’s New Writtle Street frontage and offer a mix of one and two bedroom properties overlooking the river. Many benefit from their own private balcony – an increasingly popular feature with homebuyers which adds both value and outdoor space.

Sapphire’s high quality balconies for the Chelmsford project incorporate structural glass panels with a decorative screen-printed band. Brushed anodised metal cappings complete the contemporary styling of the balcony balustrades whilst also ensuring high corrosion resistance. Balcony units are completed with durable composite decking in an attractive ebony colour and are designed for rainwater to fall into the drip trays below and free drain to the sides. Balcony brackets were connected directly to Sapphire’s cast-in anchors, with the bracket taken from within the cavity to outside of the finished façade. This provides an important thermal break, preventing balcony connection points causing a cold bridge from the cold balcony to the warm inside, which can lead to condensation problems.

With the façade constructed using mast climbers rather than scaffolding, the Glide-On connections were installed in two parts. The first part consists of a stub bracket which connects to the cast-in anchor within the building’s cavity and protrudes to the outside face of the building. The final section of the Glide-On connection was installed after the mast climbers had completed the higher level facades to avoid potential conflicts between balcony connections and mast climbers.

Balconies for the project are complemented by glass balustrades for the residential tower’s stunning roof terrace, also manufactured and installed by Sapphire. The large terrace is divided into six sections by screens in satin etched glass.

Nick Haughton, Marketing Manager at Sapphire, comments:

“This latest project for our offsite manufactured balcony solution demonstrates the cost and time saving benefits we can offer the high-rise building sector. Offering innovation and value engineering, Sapphire has made it simpler, faster and more cost-effective for housebuilders and developers to provide high quality balconies for their residential projects.”

With the first residential tower on this site successfully completed and having achieved the new records, subsequent phases are now being scheduled. These include more luxury apartments, shops and restaurants and a bridge over the River Can linking the ground and the City Centre.