Setting up shop in Eastbourne with ‘world first’ construction technique

Setting up shop in Eastbourne with ‘world first’ construction technique

The firm is employing a never-before-used technique to upgrade an outdated shopping centre. Damon Schünmann went to have a look.

Randall Centre Eastbourne under construction
Randall Centre Eastbourne
Eastbourne’s Arndale was completed in 1979, and it looks it.

“It’s old and dated,” says Kier senior project manager Alan Quigley. “[The town] has been trying to get an upgrade for 20-odd years as no-one shops in Eastbourne; they go to Tunbridge Wells or Brighton.”

But an upgrade it is now getting. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs goes the saying, and a series of houses and a pub that stood in the way have been demolished via compulsory purchase orders, lying as they did on the adjacent Terminus Road that runs north-west from the promenade, up past the shopping centre and continuing to the nearby station.

The shopping centre’s £85m expansion will comprise the construction of a three-storey extension to provide 175,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space. This will allow for about 25 shops and seven restaurants, as well as an eight-screen cinema on the roof.

Alongside this will be another two decks of steel-framed car park built on top of the existing – and in-use – reinforced concrete-frame multi-storey, to cater for the anticipated increase in footfall to the revamped ‘Beacon’ shopping centre.

World-first

It’s on the car park that Kier is using a technique never before used.

“Possibly the most innovative part of what we’re doing is that the existing structure cannot carry the load of the concrete decks or the car park,” Mr Quigley says.

“The existing RC frame columns are extremely slender and they can’t carry the load of even the concrete decking, let alone the vehicles” – Alan Quigley, Kier

Faced with this challenge, Kier opted for a new column strengthening system that avoids replacing the original structural support.

“The existing RC frame columns are extremely slender and they can’t carry the load of even the concrete decking, let alone the vehicles,” Mr Quigley explains.

“We have a product called an Exoleaf, that is patent pending and has never been used before. It’s an ultra-high-strength metal fibre reinforced concrete jacket that’s pre-formed offsite with 150 kN compressive strength.”

Source: Construction News

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