Westminster City Hall

Engineering solutions for Westminster City Hall

The building that is the home of Westminster City Council was originally completed in 1966. Fifty years later, GKR were engaged to work with ISG on its refurbishment, upgrading the building to current standards with BREEM Excellent and EPC B ratings.

Situated on one of London’s busiest roads, the 19 story building had a number of working at height challenges to overcome.

GKR had to ensure the safety of the general public and neighbouring businesses, whilst minimising disruption in an already congested traffic hot spot.

Operational challenges

The scheme was developed in August 2016 working closely with ISG to advise as the planning evolved. We were able to contribute to scope and programme requirements as well as building in cost efficiencies.

Through design and planning it was agreed that GKR would use Layher system scaffold to reduce the number of components being used. This has inherent benefits to safety but also on the logistics of supplying the materials in a busy area.

Limited building information

One of the main challenges was presented by the lack of building information. With the external walls consisting of support and structural columns with a series of windows, GKR had to check the strength of columns to identify anchor points for the external scaffold.

Establishing a pattern, aided by pull testing, GKR could create an engineered design that could support the scaffold needed.

This included a tube and fitting gantry, but a Layher system external scaffold up to the height of the building.

Cantilevers for dispersing load weights

An additional challenge was the underground car park under the west side of the building. This meant that the weight of the scaffolding needed to be managed due to the limits that the ground force could take.

This was resolved through the use of cantilevers every 4 floors which diverted the weight of the scaffolding across the building away from ground level.

Sensitive to the local community

As well as ensuring the safety of the general public, it is also important to minimize any inconvenience to the local community.

Due to the number of residential properties in proximity of the construction work, GKR used noise reduction sheeting on the scaffold to protect the neighbouring environment.

As the scheme developed, GKR contacted the local authorities, which included the WCC License team, Out of Hours team and the Metropolitan Police. We held a meeting at Westminster City Hall to discuss the impact of the scaffold on pedestrians using the footpath.

We agreed on the working hours on the various elevations, taking into account the needs of local residents, businesses and pedestrians.

The Outcome

Being involved early in the programme planning stages enabled GKR to anticipate some of the unique challenges of the project, and engineer solutions.

This allowed for a smooth phasing of the work taking into account the limited building information and constraints on load weights.

Creating engineered solutions early led to both commercial and time savings.

Additionally, the ability to engage with and consider the impact on residents, businesses and the transport system, was imperative.

We successfully conducted our operations with minimal impact of the local community, whilst creating support and opportunities for residents in other ways.


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