New Street Station
New Street Station
The new look Birmingham New Street Station was unveiled in the Autumn and Network Rail were so pleased with the metal & stone cladding that they see it as a model for future redevelopments...
New Street’s makeover took eight years to complete and cost £750m. With a footfall of 35 million passengers per year - making it the busiest building in the UK outside of London - the project was about as high profile as it gets.
The stakes were high for all the partners involved; headed up by Network Rail who manage the station and principle contractor Mace. When it came to re-cladding the walls of the platforms, the overhaul threw up many complications for Simco the cladding and framing sub-contractor charged with renewing the facades.
2016 RICS Awards
Mace working in partnership with Network Rail & Atkins
National Rail Awards 2016
The original building was Victorian and there have been ongoing changes since then, including a major “brutalist” renovation in the 1960s. This meant that there were many different kinds of surface to fix the new cladding onto, as well as other features of a modern railway station to work around, as Nathan Barnes of Mace explained: “There are a considerable amount of sensors and equipment mounted to the walls together with rainwater pipes running down columns requiring access panels. In addition to this finding signage and louvres required careful coordination. There’s a myriad of things you have to consider!”
Initially Network Rail wanted to use a glass cladding system on the platforms, but the project partners realised that it would have been difficult and expensive to make a glass system fit around the intricate design features on the platform walls.
The cladding subcontractor Simco suggested the Taylor Maxwell metal facade system, because its flexibility makes it ideally suited to complex designs.
Graham Smith, Simco’s Managing Director, explained: “The cladding system is very adaptable, and there is a very fast turn-around for deliveries from Taylor Maxwell.
“With many other systems, you have to order a month ahead, then it comes on to site and they either fit or they don’t - you can’t reshape them.”
“The metal cladding system is very adaptable, and there is a very fast turn-around for deliveries from Taylor Maxwell."
Nathan Barnes agreed that the metal cladding was the right choice for the platforms: “The system was ideal, it is a very old building but the flexibility of the backing structure overcame the issues of having a number of different substrates to fix onto and the lightweight nature allowed it to be fixed back to the old walls without the need for structural enhancement. The panels were adaptable enough to fit around services and the system flexible enough to enable the works to be phased in noncontinuous areas. It resolved all the issues that we would have had with the glass system.
“We looked at some other options but the metal cladding panels worked better with the existing structure, and was more cost effective so it made sense both for us and Network Rail.”
Cladding the parapets in the station also brought challenges. The design concept specified a granite finish, but the project team had difficulty finding a product to suit the design intent. Again, they consulted Simco, who recommended using a 20mm thick kerf & restraint fixed granite stone cladding system supplied by Taylor Maxwell.
“Network Rail were again happy that the stone cladding system was robust enough and sufficiently flexible in terms of the various substrates on the project.” reported Nathan Barnes.
There were also further complications due to the requirement of a pitched angle to the tops of the parapet walls. “Taylor Maxwell and Simco had to come up with a solution for the steeple copings. They managed to fit the stone cladding panels with a bespoke metal backing and it worked very well.” continued Nathan.
Because of the complications on the project, there was extreme time pressure on getting the cladding installed.
Graham Smith added: “Our timeframe for the works were delayed so we were left with a shortened period to install. But the customer service from Taylor Maxwell was problem-free, and everything was delivered on time. We’ve used Taylor Maxwell for dozens of projects, they are our go-to supplier.”
The end result of this prestigious project shows the benefit of an experienced installer and a responsive supplier working in partnership to solve complex design issues and meet exacting deadlines.
“The clients are over the moon.” said Graham Smith. “Network Rail is now saying the specification on the platforms is what they would like for projects going forward on their other stations.”
Nathan Barnes added: “Network Rail is looking to use the metal cladding system on other platforms again because of its flexibility and ease of installation: it just worked. And the granite stone cladding is one of the first things you see as you approach the station from the Bullring and the town centre, it looks great and it has transformed the area. Some people said the old station was dark and dingy - but now it’s light, clean and modern-looking.”
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