Civil / Structural Sector Growth Continues…
Posted on: 03/07/2014

The UK civil structural sector continues to recover and grow. Having had a lifelong interest in construction and building I was fascinated by the news item below from the bdonline recently regarding the redevelopment of The Battersea Power Station.

Having graduated myself with a degree in Civil Engineering and having originally intended to become a structural engineer I’m regularly in awe of the new innovative methods and techniques used in modern civil & structural engineering. The Battersea Power Station re-development project is an excellent example of British engineering at its best and I look forward to seeing the iconic landmark enjoying its new lease of life.

“Demolition of the first of Battersea Power Station’s chimneys will start in two weeks”, the developer has confirmed.

It will take five months to dismantle the 50m high structure. Its replacement will be complete by next summer, said Philip Gullett, chief operating officer at the Battersea Power Station Development Company.

A rig encircling the south-western and oldest chimney is already in place and will slowly ascend next week, ready to start chewing up the reinforced concrete from the top down.

Yesterday the engineer in charge of the £11 million deconstruction and reconstruction of all four chimneys explained exactly how it will happen.

Justin Phillips, a partner at Buro Happold, said four hydraulic crushers would destroy the grade II* chimney six inches at a time.

The debris will be tipped down the inside of the chimney and reused on site, possibly for roads. This method was selected over conventional demolition as it allows work to continue on the rest of the site.

The final 10m of each chimney are hidden within the 65m brick washtowers which are currently being strengthened and repaired.

Once deconstruction of the first chimney has been completed work will begin to rebuild it using exactly the same method and almost identical materials. It should emerge from its wash tower four or five months after the original disappears from view.

“The originals were cast in situ in 4ft lifts and we’ll duplicate that using formwork,” said Phillips, who has worked at Battersea for 15 years.

The concrete used for the new chimneys will have a far lower chloride content than the originals as this was blamed in part for the corrosion of the steel reinforcement.

“We spent a long time looking at whether the chimneys could be repaired because that would be much cheaper and easier but decided they would only last 10 to 20 years,” said Phillips.

“The whole skin is like a shattered egg shell. Some of the cracks are 4m long and they intersect so the failure mechanism is not that the chimneys collapse but that blocks of concrete fall off. That’s already happening.”

Once the rebuilding of the first chimney has reached the halfway point demolition of the other three can begin. An £11 million bond will ensure the chimneys can be rebuilt even if the developer goes bust, said Wandsworth council leader Ravi Govindia.

Tim Jones, English Heritage’s principle inspector of historic buildings, said he was satisfied every architectural detail would be reproduced.

Paint scrapings taken as the rig climbs the chimney will be analysed to find the most appropriate colour match, he added.

“The proposal is quite a radical one to demolish parts of a listed structure and we’ve looked at it very closely,” he said.

“We recognise the chimneys wouldn’t have a long life unless this takes place.”

The new chimneys will have at least a standard building 60-year lifespan, said Phillips.

The power station, whose restoration and conversion into offices and shops is being designed by Purcell and Wilkinson Eyre, will open to the public in 2019.

The north-west chimney will have a viewing platform and two others will be used to remove flue gases from the on-site energy centres. They will also contain internal access stairs to make maintenance easier.”

Here at Blueprint we are currently experiencing exceptional demand for engineers and technicians at all levels.

In-particular we’re very keen to speak currently with Associate level structural design engineers and proficient Revit users.

If you are looking for your next career move or would like to discuss the job market in general then please call us on 02392 603030 for a chat in confidence.

Jake Jessey BEng(Hons)


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