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Groundforce demonstrates the art of propping

Construction of a complex new £50M new development at the School of Art in Glasgow by Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM) is being eased through use of some of the most advanced hydraulic shoring equipment ever supplied by Groundforce Shorco.

The project involves construction of a new five-storey building in Renfrew Street, directly opposite the famous Grade A listed Art School building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The substructure of the new building requires temporary propping during the construction of the double storey basement in an excavation measuring approximately 60m by 34m in plan and is 10m deep.

When completed the new building, designed by New York based Steven Holl Architects and Glasgow practice JM Architects, will house a range of studios and teaching facilities as well as workshops, communal areas and exhibition spaces.

“Traditionally, SRM has opted for a structural steel solution, however we have worked closely with the company to develop a propping solution which was not only commercially similar to the cost of structural steel but also offered additional benefits, such as speed of installation and the capability to monitor loads,” said Groundforce technical sales manager Mark Whitmore.

The support structure comprises nine hydraulic props in total; six at the upper level and three raking props at the lower level. As the site slopes quite steeply, all props are also on a vertical incline, meaning that Groundforce had to ensure that the end bearing plates, which are designed to permit lateral articulation, were rotated 90° to suit the connection detail on the capping beam.

As there was a need to measure the effect of the basement excavation on the surrounding buildings, the Groundforce wireless load monitoring system was utilised, which uses electronic load pins to log prop loads and transmit readings to a central server via GPRS. This data is then displayed in the form of charts and graphs on a secure website which SRM, and any other authorised users, can access at any time.

“I’ve worked with smaller equipment, like hydraulic manhole braces, many times before, but this is a whole different order of scale” said SRM construction manager Peter Unwin. “Instead of handling units weighing 250 to 500kg, you’re handling pieces weighing 16 or 18t but it’s very user-friendly and everything’s gone very smoothly”.

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