Three international projects demonstrate how precast concrete’s versatility meets construction standards while giving structures a bold new look.
NPCA Staff Report
With the world of design and engineering constantly evolving due to advancements in standards, changes in environmental factors and new design trends, construction materials must be versatile to rise to the challenge. Precast concrete has proven to be the construction material that architects, contractors and engineers need to strike a balance of quality, strength and beauty.
Precast Enhances A luxury Australian Apartment Building
Australia is home to many iconic and distinctive features. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system and home to 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of tropical fish.1 The country is also the undisputed home of the kangaroo, and its Outback is one of the largest swaths of intact natural lands on Earth. Australia also holds the unique distinction of being the only country that is also a continent.
Despite being one of the least densely populated countries in the world, it is home to nearly 25 million people with more than 5 million of them calling Sydney home. Like any major city, the core’s density makes suburban life appealing, and just northwest of Sydney, Kellyville, New South Wales, is rising to the opportunity with sleek, modern accommodations for the city’s growing population.
Creating upscale homes for thousands of potential residents, the soon-to-be-finished Moda the Hills development incorporates suburban favorites such as rooftop terrances, walking paths, shopping and golf with a nearby business district.
The development’s four residential towers will be wrapped in 999 panels of precast concrete when complete, manufactured by Sydney-based Alpha Precast. The panels offered the architect and developer a range of benefits including thermal efficiency, fire and insect resistance, speed of installation as well as a cleaner worksite. The panels for the three 12-story towers and one 6-story tower are loadbearing and feature shiplap joints and starter bars to connect to the floor slabs. They will be installed over the course of 16 weeks.
In addition, the precast panels bring to life the sophisticated design and desired luxury aesthetic the architects and developers envisioned. Due to be completed in December 2020, the towers will soon transition from beautiful renderings to beautiful homes complete with rooftop gardens, a pool and fitness facilities.
Where Terrain and The Arts Become One
Rising like a lush, craggy oasis out of the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea, Scotland’s terrain is as distinct as the country’s iconic whisky or its famous links.
It is no surprise, then, that the country’s first design museum pays homage to its noteworthy landscape. Victoria & Albert Museum, better known as V&A Dundee, located in Dundee, Scotland, is situated on the north shore of the Firth of Tay – a location with a historical connection to the area’s once-thriving maritime industry.
The architect sought to pay homage to Scotland’s bold, sturdy cliffs, and no material is better at fulfilling that vision than precast concrete. The two inverted pyramids work in tandem to frame a one-of-a-kind view of the River Tay as they twist horizontally and vertically to mimic the shape of a ship’s hull.
In order to get the details right and ensure the complex design could be realized, an integrated BIM 3D model was used to study the building’s design. Precast was chosen for appearance, quality assurance, uniformity, cost savings and phased delivery. Precast manufacturer Techrete cast panels for an entire year, averaging 12 panels per day.
To accommodate the varying size and shape of the planks, Techrete devised a steel form that rotated on large rollers and locked at given angles. Using this innovative forming technique, Techrete’s manufacturing team was able to quickly and easily adjust between pours, eliminating the need for numerous custom forms and lengthy set-up. A retarding agent was applied to the surface of each panel to partially expose some of the granite used in the concrete mix design, evoking Scotland’s cliffs.
Installation of the panels and their 18,000 cast-in channels required a GPS system and custom-engineered connections. The end result is a stunning, one-of-a-kind structure that has won numerous honors and awards including British Precast’s Best Project, Irish Concrete Society’s International Project of the Year, an award for use of BIM and inclusion in Time magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places 2019.”
Precast Takes Center Stage in Surrey’s City Center
Jutting out of the heart of British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies and multiple other mountain systems are the defining feature of Canada’s third-largest province by size. Nestled into a valley in this mountainous landscape, Vancouver plays host to the National Hockey League’s Canucks, a tremendous amount of annual precipitation and five public universities.
Simon Fraser University, situated in the metro Vancouver area in Surrey’s city center, recently embarked on a fast-tracked project to construct a five-story building to house its new sustainable energy and engineering program. The program’s energy engineering focus emphasizes clean technology and renewable and sustainable energies.
By overlapping the design and construction schedules, the university saved time but needed methods and materials to accommodate the ambitious plan. The design team chose precast concrete panels for the building’s facade because of the quality control aspect of plant-produced product, its design flexibility, durability and the ability to quickly close the building envelope.
The shape and texture of the 330 unique, energy-efficient panels were intended to imitate the pattern of an electrical circuit board. Manufactured by Surespan Structures, the panels feature insulation and reflective glazing as well as a brilliant white color thanks to white sand imported from Ontario and white cement from Mexico. Surespan used specialty formliners to create a wave-like pattern on the curved panels.
The completed building houses the university’s Sustainable Energy Engineering program, serving hundreds of students yearly eager to leave their mark in the clean energy sector.