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Student accommodation gets starring role at Pebble Mill

Oldbury-based cold roll-forming specialists, Metsec has supplied its market-leading Metframe pre-panelised construction system to create new student accommodation facilities on the site of the former BBC Pebble Mill studios near Birmingham city centre.

Designed by local architects, Glancy Nicholls, the £25 million project provides 357 high-specification, self-contained studios for students at local universities.

The building occupies 11,000 square metres with around 600 square metres dedicated to amenities which create a vibrant communal hub. These include dining facilities, study rooms, a gaming room, cinema and gym.

The structure comprises three tiered towers of four, five and six storeys, all constructed from Metframe and finished externally with stone and brick cladding panels.

Consulting engineers, BWB Consulting specified Metframe as the preferred solution for the loadbearing frame mainly due to its lightweight which facilitates significant savings in the construction of foundations. However, other key benefits of using Metframe also came to the fore at Pebble Mill in the areas of cost, efficiency and quality.

Metframe panels were fabricated off-site by Metsec-approved installer, Atkin Trade Specialists. The lightweight steel panels were then delivered to site ready for immediate installation. Atkin Group Director, Thomas Atkin comments, “The Pebble Mill project is a perfect demonstration of Metframe’s strengths. With wall panels manufactured off-site, other construction processes, such as foundations and services, are free to proceed unhindered until the project is ready for the panels.

“Panels are then delivered according to the project’s schedule and erected as soon as they arrive on site.

“The main structure takes shape quickly and efficiently, with follow-on trades able to start their work very soon after Metframe has been installed.”

From a contractor/client perspective, the structure at Pebble Mill was completed in around 18 weeks, allowing contractors, Morgan Sindall to deliver the finished project ahead of schedule and clients, Vita Student to start letting the accommodation earlier than anticipated.

Additionally, Metframe enabled the structure to be built to precise tolerances, as Steve Ginger, Director of Framing at Metsec, explains, “Quality on this project was particularly important. Each cell needed to be true to ensure that follow-on fitting of windows, reveals, services, external cladding panels and other items could proceed smoothly.

“Using Metframe proved to be advantageous as it allowed Atkin Trade Specialists to meet these demands and the contractor to deliver a high-quality finished building, both inside and out.”

In all, Metsec supplied more than 17,000 cold-rolled elements for the project, together with the requisite bolts and fixings necessary for the fabrication and installation of the Metframe panels.