Regenerating Housing with Durability and Style

New style Aluma aluminium balustrades from Sapphire are part of the regeneration of two housing estates in Lewisham, south London. Sapphire’s relaunched Aluma system, featuring semi-frameless fixing for glass infill panels, strikes the perfect balance between durability and style (visual appeal) for residential balconies in four new tower blocks on the Heathside and Lethbridge estates. In addition to aluminium and glass balcony balustrades, Sapphire also supplied polished stainless steel handrails with coated steel uprights and vertical bar infills to give function and style to internal communal stairways.

As part of its total support package for this prestigious residential project, Sapphire developed two new time-saving concepts. Deliveries were made in Sapphire’s new stackable crates, preloaded with components required for each floor before leaving for site, so all items can be craned up to the relevant floor in one lift. Sapphire also supplied complex drilling templates, which helped reduce installation time on site, whilst ensuring better accuracy.

Phased regeneration by Family Mosaic, one of the largest housing associations in London and the south east, will transform the two south London estates into a mixed tenure development of over 1,200 private and affordable homes, designed and built to Code Level 4. Architects for the multi-million pound project were London-based practice bptw partnership. Main contractor was Ardmore, which has a proven track record in delivering large residential and mixed used developments. Stylish, low maintenance balcony balustrades were a key design requirement for the regeneration project to ensure durability and low ongoing costs. Sapphire’s innovative semi-frameless Aluma system provided the ideal solution, integrating the style of a structural glass balustrade with the superior corrosion resistance of high-grade aluminium extrusions. Glass infills simply slot into the Aluma baluster uprights and/or handrail profiles, removing the “clutter” of traditional patch lugs.

The project architects worked closely with Sapphire on the Lewisham project and were impressed with the company’s through-the-project support. A member of bptw’s architectural team comments: “Sapphire supplied excellent drawings to our design specification and coordinated on site installation with other contractors, which assisted smooth completion. Sapphire ticked all the boxes in terms of service and the finished balustrades look great.”

Aluma handrails and baluster uprights for balcony balustrades in the new high-rise homes have an attractive Graphite Grey powder coated matt finish to complement contemporary façades. Balusters are fixed with chemical anchors into concrete integrated balconies. The use of aluminium provides an excellent balance between a cost effective solution and providing ultimate rust protection. Infill panels were manufactured from 10mm clear toughened glass with polished edges. In addition, balustrades by Sapphire for core stairways inside the new tower blocks combine handrails in 304 grade satin polished stainless steel with mild steel uprights, fixed into concrete stairs.

In addition to designing in durability and style whilst meeting the prestigious project’s aesthetic specification, all internal and external balustrades were designed by Sapphire to comply with relevant standards for structural performance and design loads. Additionally, balustrades had to satisfy specific safety regulations relating to residential applications, such as suitability for children, which ensures that balustrades are not easily climbable and have no gaps of more than 100mm, to prevent a small child falling through. Creating durability through intelligent specification is essential for safety during the lifespan of the balcony not just when its new.