World’s first multi-storey skate park - photo © Hufton and Crowe
There’s a very good reason why no one had attempted a multi-storey skatepark before. Designing and building unique non-geometric shaped concrete bowls on multiple levels is a difficult task, doing this while meeting cost targets and without creating obtrusive columns called for an innovative, can-do approach. Ramboll was engaged as engineers once the complexity of the project across the whole supply chain had become apparent and followed a recommendation from Guy Hollaway architects having worked with Ramboll on previous challenging schemes.
With the building designed to lean out, Ramboll recommended supporting the building on the façade, and bringing the load down where the cantilever was smallest, on the first floor. Close collaboration with Ramboll’s façade team ensured they came along with us on the journey. Together we reduced the cost of the façade solution and in collaboration with the architect, we developed an expandable Aluminium mesh cassette system. This paved the way for an offsite unitised system, which opened up the supply chain, improved quality, reduce installation costs and programme.
The complexity of the initial façade geometry presented challenges for construction, which were overcome with parametric design that simplified the design. Using techniques honed on airports around the world, the team panelised the façade, optimising it to suit the fabricator’s capabilities, while delivering the unconventional geometry of the building with a massively reduced number of panel variants.
With a bespoke parametric design tool created we could really get creative with the architect, flexing the angles and look of the façade real time, with the client and architect in the same room. We created virtual reality 3D walkthroughs of the sports park, showing how our designs would impact the sports park users.
We recommended a significant change in the superstructure design which generated a large cost saving. The proposal was to launch the steelwork from the 1st floor concrete bowl, drastically reducing the number of columns on the ground floor, as they were no longer needed to support the bowls. With the number of supporting columns reduced it was possible to transfer the cafeteria to the ground floor from the roof, removing one storey from the building and significantly reducing costs.
Anyone familiar with skatepark bowl designs will know they owe more to the imagination of the designer than to geometric purity. Converting the designs into a reinforced concrete bowl on the building’s 1st was a unique challenge for the Ramboll design team.
We overcame many challenges to ensure its buildability, including providing a simple solid model that accurately provided the full geometry for the formwork manufacture. We also designed a bespoke programme to de-risk and optimize the irregular steel reinforcement supply. This solution reduced the cost by 75% against the contractor’s best estimate, and massively reduced the risks.