BSkyB Health and Fitness
Project: BSkyB Health & Fitness
Company: B & K Structures
Technology: CLT & Glulam
The Sky Health and Fitness Centre building was designed to rehouse an oversubscribed gym that had been operational for over 14 years, as well as providing other new fitness facilities - underpinning Sky's commitment to the health and wellbeing of their staff. Positioned opposite a large landscaped plaza, the building takes advantage of the views across the panorama to Boston Manor and beyond. The X-LAM Alliance were appointed to provide a hybrid structure comprising glulam columns and beams together with cross laminated timber perimeter walls and floors, with visible grade timber specified for the internal exposed structural walls.
The X-LAM Alliance worked closely with dRMM, ARUP, Mace and M&E trades to fully maximise the speed of construction. The overall structural design was by ARUP, while the X-LAM Alliance were responsible for the connection design and detailing. The principal structural feature of the fitness centre was the wide, shallow glulam beams, supported on paired glulam columns. The beams were laid in the opposite orientation to norm, to give a near flat soffit. The beams were required to run continuously over the heads of the columns, which were broken above and below the beams. This allowed for greater ease of service installation for following on trades, because of the virtually flat soffit that was created by the rotated beams. For the structure to work in this way, the detailing of the connections was vital to ensure the correct stiffness could be achieved.
The approach to detailing and design was focused on achieving the correct performance and to keep the installation process as simple as possible, which was vital to the build. The decision was made early in the design to use timber-to-timber bearing connections rather than the more commonly used bolts, making the process simpler. In order to connect the main wide shallow beams to the column pair, a carefully detailed approach had to be taken to avoid the vertical columns crushing the glulam beam perpendicular to the grain - steel dowels were therefore designed and inserted into the glulam at the fabrication plant.
In order to avoid the forces in the vertical dowels punching into the columns - steel end plates were provided above and below the beam. The steel plates were also used to connect the columns to the beams using skewed screws – allowing robustness forces to be resisted by the assembly. Between the columns, a glulam header section was provided to hide the steel plates. This was fitted to the columns using a traditional tenon and mortice connection with structural gluing.
Outcome / results / success factor
The project, one of a very few all-timber fitness centres in the world, was completed on time and on budget in May 2015. The timber structure took just 25 days to erect - an impressive achievement during the winter season. The construction and delivery were clearly mapped out to align with Sky’s sustainability aspirations and delivered within the tight programme and time constraints – achieving the targeted BREEAM Very Good rating. The completed building has a striking aesthetic appeal that showcases the very best in timber design and is a great example of integrated engineering and timber technology.
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