Build July (2016)

Build Magazine 10 BalconIE Ltd takes a unique approach to both the design and construction of balcony structures, ensuring safety and longevity. We invited Peter Packham, the firm’s CEO, Chartered Architect and Project Manager, to talk us through this approach and how it is changing the construction industry for the better. The BalconIE concept has been developed to simplify, re-engineer and add a further level of safety within the construction industry departing from the “business as usual” approach to cantilever balcony instruction. Lloyds Register, the renowned safety organisation, when refering to the SPS plate, a core component of the Balconie System state: “The revolutionary Plate System is a new generation of building material bringing ship building and civil engineering to the threshold of a new era”. This highlights the high level of excellence we strive for at all times, but we have not rested on our laurels and are dedicated to continuously improving our strategy. BalconIE Ltd and our partner Intelligent Engineering Ltd have now moved this approach further forward, providing a structurally engineered and Architectural approach, and we now operate as part of a new collaborative and progressive team looking in detail at the typical and specific issues of this widely used element within the building industry. The development team consists of a skilled and very experienced group of Architects, Project Managers and specialist Engineers, supported by further 3rd party peer reviewers, ensuring every issue has been addressed within the design and development of the system. The team agreed early in the process that the new steel plate system must exceed all codes and basic requirements, especially with subjects such as crowd loading, which currently are not a requirement of UK regulations or codes for areas such as residential design, for example. From experience, the standard industry approach requires numerous components, which are fixed usually to the outer face of the substrate floor or column. To achieve these connections, especially mid to high rise, requires very early design details, placing of thermal inserts into formwork, and exact setting out to ensure the loose components will allow for the eventual fixing. When presenting a final balcony unit for fixing, various issues exist such as concealed bolt connections, the need to work beyond the slab edge at the outer extremities of the building, and the potential for numerous penetrations through the fabric which require weatherproofing and allowance for tolerances etc. Instead, BalconIE Ltd have developed a single tray system, which fixes to the upper surface of the structure, using prefabricated insert channels ideally, but can be via “through bolt” type arrangements. The simple trays are designed to provide inherent code compliance for all Architectural requirements such as waterproofing, upstands, overflows and drainage. Speed of install is a significant advantage of the system, which helps ensure that the project stays on schedule and significantly reducing coast. Typical installation would see the unit being landed on the upper surface of the structure, locating pre-set bolt positions within the insert rails, and simply bolted into position from the upper surface of the slab, the operatives working safely on the slab edge itself, away from the external face with safety lanyards etc., until the unit is finally bolted. The safety aspect is further enhanced by the development of the central pin connection, which can support the whole unit during the bolting procedure, exceeding shear forces and loads, hence the single pin locates and provides total safety. The new design has been thoroughly tested across all loadings, in addition to Thermal issues (the system has an inbuilt Thermal resistance as well as a simple thermal break used in install), and all are exceeded in every way from simple code compliance, the units being developed for the most arduous A5-A7 load type criteria + factor of safety of x 1.5, furthermore the construction is 100% recyclable or reusable. Ultimately we are keen to promote the use of our system, as we know it to be the safest, quickest and most efficient in the industry. Special Feature 2016 Infrastructure Innovator of the Year, the UK 1606WO19