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University Of Roehampton

The new world-class University Of Roehampton Library is a 70,000 square foot, five-storey building, housing 350,000 books and 1,060 study spaces. The £34 million building was manufactured offsite by MPA Precast member, Creagh Concrete.

Creagh Concrete was responsible for the design, manufacture, delivery and installation of all members of the precast architecturally exposed concrete frame with single and double height columns, plate flooring, precast beams and precast stairs. The facade is a lightweight steel frame system with weatherproof boarding and an outer precast brick-clad skin.

A precast concrete frame and hybrid precast/insitu concrete Omnia flooring slabs were used to create the frame for the new library. Installation time was an hour to erect a column and half-an-hour for each slab. The floor slab construction has integrated M&E, including heating and cooling pipework. The embedded pipework allows the entire exposed soffit of the concrete flooring to be used as the heating or cooling medium, using minimum energy and providing maximum comfort to the large library building. Due to the low operating temperatures, the system lends itself particularly well to be combined with heat pumps, ground heat exchangers, solar energy and other alternative energy sources. The system maintains the concrete surface temperature close to the room air temperature, resulting in a high degree of self-regulation from the system.

The precast floor units were manufactured on steel tables ensuring a very high standard of finish. The product is therefore suitable for applications where the soffit of the concrete slab is left exposed in the final case, such as this.

Busy construction sites can be noisy so building a new library within a few metres of sleeping students and exam theatres was a tricky task. Since there was limited room to make deliveries and the build system requires the constant ‘feeding’ of precast components, the task of organising the project necessitated close liaison with the university.

It is speed of construction that underlines the attractiveness of using precast concrete components. The amount of repetition suited the process, the project and the site. The two stair cores were erected in five weeks and the frame, including the precast flooring, took thirteen weeks to install. The fast track advantages of the offsite build system and precast components met the needs of this time-sensitive education scheme, ensuring that the library opened its doors on time for the new academic year.