As the largest construction project in Europe of its kind, Battersea Power Station is one of the more challenging projects GKR is working on.
Mace contracted GKR to provide scaffolding and access on Phase 2 works, restoring the main Power Station and renovating it into commercial, retail and high end residential space in November 2017.
GKR supplied full external scaffolding around the entire height and perimeter of the building. Additionally we needed a safe access solution to the 4 iconic wash towers which required complex engineering.
Being a large project with thousands of workers on site on any day, and a large supply chain, the project had inherent logistical challenges. Delivering large volumes of materials according to delivery schedule restrictions and crane availability, and then transporting and storing materials to service multiple work locations some distance apart needed planning.
The operational management and engagement of a large workforce of 100 operatives on one site, in various locations required significant planning to maintain quality, productivity and morale. Working conditions were also often difficult such as dealing with asbestos.
In short, a perfect storm of complexity and volume – a perfect challenge for us.
The works consist of external access scaffold framing the full height and perimeter of the Power Station including complex hanging scaffolds for the four wash towers. Additionally, we were responsible for scaffolding the internal wash towers and constructing moving scaffolding for brickwork restoration, and lead and asbestos removal.
For the full externals, there are 7.2 miles of lifts with 25 lifts on each of the the wash towers. If run end to end, the boards used would reach 43.2 miles. The scaffold is 60.8m at its highest point.
However, the most interesting engineering was for the hanging scaffolds for each of the 4 wash towers, taking 12 weeks to design.
Building each large section, we managed to minimize the need to handle so many components at height by constructing the scaffold on the ground. It was then craned into place within a purpose-built frame, resulting in four large sections of hanging access scaffold.
The ability to crane the scaffold into place was enabled by the sheer scale of the site allowing space to construct on the ground. Much of the work was undertaken at night with crane lifts at the weekend so as not to disrupt other works on site.
The hanging scaffold aided in the removal of brickwork so that the steel within the towers could be retreated due to its age. The age of the materials also meant asbestos was present which our operatives had to adapt their works to account for this. Our work provided high level access to the towers, and stability and protection from falling debris.
The whole project was a challenge for us; from operational and people management to delivering complex solutions in a logistically difficult environment.
The number of staff needed was our initial challenge. It involved hiring, inducting and integrating a proportion of operatives that had not worked together before and ensuring they met the GKR standards. Our supervisors and project managers had to regulate the increased risk that comes with new starters. Work standards had to be very clear, and behaviours and work ethic monitored closely.
Communication was paramount across the project as numerous different contractors were interdependent to our works. Our project managers had the task of collaborating with relevant contractors across site to ensure operations ran smoothly. Additionally, having only one drop-off point for the volume of scaffolding being transported, we needed to work closely with Mace Logistics.
Engineering of the hanging scaffolds was challenging enough, however the first section of hanging scaffold had to be craned between two buildings and therefore needed millimeter accuracy in order to fit. This was technically challenging for the team and required detailed planning but thankfully was achieved.
The challenges evolve constantly with Battersea Power Station. Despite this, we can say we are proud of the work achieved on the project and honoured to be able to contribute to such an iconic development.