Offsite light gauge steel selected for Globe Works student accommodation, Birmingham

Front render - 300 DPIOffsite manufacturer Fusion Building Systems, has been awarded the contract to deliver the light gauge steel superstructure for Birmingham’s latest student accommodation project, at the former Globe Works site in the city’s historic Gun Quarter.

The work has been awarded to Fusion by Leicestershire contractor D W Hicks as part of a £45m regeneration project. The development is being funded by PGIM (Pramerica) and Hyde Park Finance, and is being developed and managed by London & UK Property.

Awarding this contract to Fusion and opting to build with offsite systems, not only follows a growing shift towards using ‘modern methods of construction’ for new student accommodation, but demonstrates the value to be gained from having collaboration and integration within a supply chain.

Robert Clark, Fusion Head of Business Development, said: “Offsite is fast being viewed as the only method of construction to consider for student builds. The timetables are usually tight, as are the sites and with sustainability high on the agenda too, traditional building methods simply can’t compete.

“Our contract for Globe Works is significant for another reason however – demonstrating how collaborative working and supply chain integration is so crucially important in offsite construction. To explain, the process which takes place at our manufacturing facility can combine many elements, not just the construction of steel frames; insulation, acoustic performance, M&E positioning and the placement of doors and windows for example can all be incorporated, but this can only deliver cost and time-saving benefits if the entire offsite process is fully integrated into the overall supply chain.”

Fusion will design and manufacture the wall and floor panels (or cassettes) for the 10-storey development located on Cliveden Street, at its offsite facility in Northampton. The panels will arrive on site pre-insulated and ready to be erected by a team of just eight experienced personnel.

Martyn Hicks of contractor, D W Hicks, added: “Globe Works will be the second student accommodation contract we’ve awarded to Fusion, really because their system is so well-suited to the scheme and we know how they work. Student accommodation projects typically run to tight timescales but, the collaborative working partnerships we’re establishing with Fusion and other partners on this project will hopefully enable us to roll out more projects in the future, using offsite methods of construction.”

The Cliveden Street development will provide 520 student bedrooms split across five and 10-storey blocks in shared flats and studios. It will also house a lounge, gym, study centre, reception, offices and cycle storage for 60 bikes, as well as a convenience store and coffee shop.

Mike Stares of developer London & UK Property, added: “Birmingham’s Gun Quarter is experiencing some healthy regeneration at the moment and Globe Works is one of a number of student accommodation projects which have been granted approval for development over the past few years, helping to house the city’s growing student population.

“We have a build programme for Cliveden Street of around 24 months and it’s crucial we stay on track. The predictable timescales along with the many other benefits offsite construction can deliver, far outstrip those of traditional building methods for projects such as this – and based on the experience we’ve had so far of Fusion’s light gauge steel system, we’re looking forward to working with them again.”

Work is due to start on site towards the end of November, with a planned completion date of June 2019.