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    Network Housing Group

    Value: £260,000
    Location: Middlesex House, Wembley
    Form of Contract: JCT2005 D&B
    Duration: Roofing Element: May 2010 - August

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Project Brief

To overhaul this former 1960’s 14-storey office block, inside and out, by reconfiguring the previously converted residential units and radically redesigning the building’s profile, altering the aesthetics of the building to feature a revolutionary stainless steel fin structure to the full height of the end elevation and lift shafts, all while residents remained in occupation. The building’s owners, Stadium Housing Group, required changing of the tenancies to general needs type accommodation which required increasing the sizes of many of the units from 1 and 2 bedroom temporary lets to include 3, 4 and 5 person dwellings.

Scope of Work

The scheme comprised the complete internal and external refurbishment of an existing 14-storey tower block, including new windows, the reconfiguration of existing residential units, external render system, full mechanical and electrical renewals including communal heating works and one new and one refurbished elevator, new roofs including a green roof to a low level wing, and conversion of a roof to incorporate an external gym and play area with covered seating area.

Key Challenges

The main challenge on this scheme was to reconfigure the existing residential units on a rolling programme, two floors at a time, while maintaining access and services at all times to the residents. Initially, residents were to be decanted into temporary accommodation both within the existing building and offsite. However, difficulties arose when trying to match residents from their own accommodation to equivalent sized accommodation on other floors. Consequently, much of the refurbishment was undertaken while residents remained insitu, impacting on the programme duration, which had to be extended to accommodate the additional time required to undertake the works.

In addition to reconfiguring the existing residential units, a major change of use and major operations were made to the first and ground floors. The first floor was converted into living accommodation, conforming to Lifetime Homes Standards, with glazed balconies built to the front elevation and larger structural balconies to the rear. On the ground floor we constructed a new office and contemporary integrated Pre-School area in conjunction with Brent Play Centre scheme.

The undercroft of the building was also designated for conversion. This area was previously being used for parking and storage, and we introduced two disabled units into this space.

A major element of the works was the introduction of a new mechanical heating system running from communal boilers while the existing system remained in operation, and ensuring that amenities were maintained at all times.

The window renewal programme involved complex logistical management and involved complete bay removal, one at a time, to achieve the required design, and required the rooms to be vacant while works were undertaken.

A key aspect when undertaking the works was in minimising the risk of potential Health & Safety issues, both to the residents in occupation, and also to the many young children living in the
existing blocks and attending the Nursery on the ground floor. Extensive signing and guarding were applied to each of the floors in sequence with the works. While we worked on two floors, the doors to common areas could only be opened from the inside, thus preventing unauthorised persons gaining access to the area.

Delivery Targets

  • To keep works to each flat to a set programme, involving two floors at a time, in conjunction with a rolling programme of decants, where possible.
  • To complete works to the first four floors by March 2011 to enable client funding.
  • To keep the residents appraised of the programme of works, and assist them at all stages of the process, whether they remained in occupation while the works were being undertaken, or whether they were decanted into temporary units, both within the building and offsite. This assistance including the protection of their property and possessions at all times.

Innovation

The building’s profile was redesigned to improve the aesthetics of the building and to change its look and feel from a former office block to a contemporary residence. The required finish was achieved by the design and installation of five lightweight stainless steel ‘fins’ to the end elevations and lift shafts. The building was insulated and the building fabric upgraded, with the whole exterior of the building clad in the same render system.

Key Outputs

The resident base at Middlesex House is very diverse, many of whom are from Somalia, Sri Lanka and Poland, and who speak very little English. It was therefore essential that we maintained communication at all times to ensure that all were kept informed of the progress of the works, together with any potential health and safety risks. Our Resident Liaison Officer was in constant contact with the Residents from their base within the existing reception area of the building. As well as giving residents an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns, we also held resident events, such as trips and barbecues.

Our dedicated Traffic Manager safely co-ordinated daily traffic around the block; this included deliveries, visitor traffic and children being dropped off at the Nursery. The existing Reception area was significantly changed and incorporated various hoarding and crash decks to protect the public.