Electricity North West, Whitebirk

Client: Electricity North West Limited

Architect: Corstorphine + Wright

Contractor: John Turner & Sons (main building), Sustainability (training academy)

Value: £1.6 million (main building), £2.3 million (training academy)

Thomasons were appointed by Electricity North West Limited on this project for major refurbishment works of an existing building in Blackburn, Lancashire.

The original building was a 1950s industrial workshop approximately 45m x 24m and 7m to eaves, single storey. The building comprised a reinforced concrete structure with exposed columns within the external elevations and feature projecting concrete nibs at first floor level and roof level, with a barrelled profile concrete roof. The exposed concrete was deteriorating and the building was looking tired.

The proposals were to reconfigure the internal space, to include office use and to overclad the elevations. Thomasons input included investigating the condition of the existing concrete structure, scheduling the repairs, designing a new mezzanine floor supported off the existing columns and designing the support framework for the new cladding.

Thomasons was also appointed to work on the construction of a new multi-million pound state-of-the-art training academy for Electricity North West.

The new complex has created local job opportunities and trained the next generation of technicians and engineers to help maintain the North West’s electricity supply and deliver a £2.6bn investment programme.

The new academy incorporates five workshops, classrooms, office space as well as associated amenity spaces, including outdoor training facilities.

Thomasons were involved from feasibility stage onwards to advise Electricity North West on efficient civil and structural solutions and provide detailed designs for tender. Thomasons were then novated to the design and build contractor during construction.

The structure comprises a two storey braced steelwork frame with an in situ reinforced concrete/metal deck composite first floor and a precast wide plank unit ground floor, supported on ground beams, all on driven piles.

Deep service trenches and ducts were formed in the ground floor in an economic manner by stepping the precast slabs and making up levels in load bearing polystyrene blocks with a plastic fibre reinforced concrete screed finish.

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