International Way, Southampton

Contract Type:  Residential Tower Block Refurbishment

Client:  British Gas on behalf of Southampton City Council

Value:  £12,000,000

The 5 imposing towers at International Way – Hampton, Havre, Olso, Copenhagen and Rotterdam – are situated close to the seafront, visible to passing vessels.  Southampton City Council provided capital to refurbish the 13-storey blocks, which was matched by CESP funding from British Gas. 

Lawtech was appointed as Principal Contractor to thermally wrap 520 dwellings with:

  • 5,200 UPVC windows – double-glazed, tilt and turn (Veka sections and Maco gear)
  • 12,500m2 EWI - Rockwool Mineral Wool
  • solid roof insulation
  • solar PV
  • balcony conversions
  • central heating

A U-Value of 0.30W/(m2K) was achieved.

The towers remained fully occupied throughout the works which saw an entire floor of 8 flats plus communal areas (80 windows) installed per day by a team of 25-30 fitters.  This was the optimum rate of installation, balancing the demands of the tight Programme against the feasibility of arranging access to properties and minimising disruption to residents.  The blocks were fully scaffolded, enabling Lawtech to complete the majority of glazing tasks externally.

All blocks were stripped of existing render before the application of Rockwool Mineral Wool EWI.  Each block was finished in white with the exception of one feature wall in a unique shade of blue, such that the blocks graduated from light to dark blue when viewed from Southampton Water.

New central heating systems were installed, feeding from the district heating system, with independent control panels fitted in each flat.  Solar PV was positioned on the roofline of each block.

Installation challenge:

The existing balconies at International Way were recessed and open to the elements.  We removed the existing parapet walls and replaced them with a steel framing system to accept new glazing units fitted flush with the external walls of the block, effectively creating bright, enclosed spaces where the balconies had been.

A Lawtech operative encountered unexpected asbestos within the structure of the first parapet walls to be removed.  He reported it to the Senior Project Manager who activated our Asbestos Management Strategy Procedure.  Work was halted immediately and a specialist contractor for from our List of Approved Suppliers was called in to manage the parapet removals with minimal delay to our Programme.

Lessons Learnt:

Inward-opening windows units were specified in accordance with Southampton’s policy to prevent accidental falls and suicides.  Due to their exposed location, winds buffeted the blocks from a direction that drove the glazed panels away from the frames.  In addition, every floor featured corner flats.  When residents of those flats opened windows on two elevations at the same time, the through-draught caused the windows and internal doors to slam, raising the risk of fingers being trapped, etc.  Lawtech retro-fitted restrictors to the new windows.  These issues were logged by Lawtech and will inform our consideration of specifications for inward-opening units in future.

Resident Liaison

British Gas, Southampton CC and Lawtech jointly hosted a well-attended Open Day for residents featuring a number of educational seminars for residents.  Communication with residents throughout the works was key to the success of the ambitious Programme at International Way.

Legacy:

Southampton City Council was driving a youth environmental educational scheme through a fun, interactive environmental energy centre which uses interactive workshops to educate children.  Lawtech sponsored 2 coaches to take local residents’ children to this centre during a half-term holiday.

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