Merano Residences is a 28 storey, high end, mixed use development boasting panoramic views of Westminster and the City of London. The development by St James Group is designed by critically acclaimed, international architects; Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners. Located at Albert Embankment on the River Thames, the site was formally occupied by Eastbury House, a collection of 1960’s commercial office buildings, cleared to enable the construction of this stunning development. It comprises a three storey deep basement housing car parking and plant, reception and retail at ground floor, three levels of commercial space and 23 levels of residential accommodation. In a prominent location, the client required a visually exciting landmark structure that was functional, economic and accommodated within a relatively small site.
Quality and efficiency delivered on a constrained London site
Hemmed in by Albert Embankment Road and eight over ground railway lines, significant considerations were given to the design to minimise potential delays of onsite deliveries, waste removal and vehicle movements. This coupled with the architectural intent to express all structural elements of the building and provide a world class quality structure led to Ramboll designing a hybrid solution. Consisting of a precast reinforced concrete frame and external steel cross bracing, offsite construction ensured a quality finish, guaranteeing a seamless transition between structural elements and continuity of colour. The detailing and smooth finish achieved with precast concrete simply could not be matched with onsite in situ construction.
Large column free living spaces
To maximise this development’s prime location, St James Group’s aspirations for large unobstructed column free living spaces led to the challenge of reducing the number of supporting columns to just 12. These are located in the external façade and form exposed precast concretefeature columns, which are expressed as a dominant aesthetic feature for the full height of the building. The large floor spans were achieved using a 310mm thick hybrid precast concrete lattice and insitu floor system that is supported on precast concrete columns. This resulted in complex floor to column connections that were developed to enable offsite construction.
Prefabricated lightweight steel balconies were design to overcome the spatial constraints of the site and provide an extension to the internal living spaces. A steel hanger truss system supports the balcony structures and provides a distinct external feature to the façade.
Foundation and basement design
In the basement, the number of parking spaces have been maximised through the innovative use of 300mm thick precast concrete twin walls above ground level that bear directly on to a central stability wall in the basement. This solution also reduced the requirement for propping and shuttering on site, saving materials and labour. A construction strategy was also developed to install a tower crane on the 14th floor of the structure, enabling construction up to 28 storeys. Furthermore Ramboll geotechnical engineers developed a cantilevered secant piled solution to allow ease of demolition whilst retaining the integrity of the substructure foundation solution.
Increasing efficiency through offsite construction and BIM
The structure was designed using offsite construction methods, in conjunction with Expanded Ltd. We developed a top down basement construction philosophy to enable the substructure and super structure to be constructed simultaneously. Early access for follow on trades was enabled due to the completion of the 28 storey structural frame within 62 weeks.
Furthermore an innovative design approach utilising a parametric three dimensional unitised precast concrete BIM model was also produced, containing all construction data. This model enabled accurate cost analysis and allowed the sharing of the BIM model directly with the fabrication software, subsequently eliminating the need for production of separate 2D drawings to communicate the design intentions. By providing a unitised BIM model, Ramboll enabled smooth transformation of design data between the precast concrete fabricator and the design team, with the added benefit of real time cost analysis of the precast concrete and steel structural components.