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Capital Quarter, Cardiff

Capital Quarter is an exciting 8 acre mixed use Cardiff City Centre development with outline planning for over 800,000 sq.ft. of development to include offices, hotels, student housing, residential and education uses. The Capital Quarter development is being undertaken by JR Smart (Builders) Ltd, a local family business with 40 years of experience of the development process, working closely with a wide range of organisations in both the public and private sectors. During this time the Company has developed in excess of 2m sq.ft of property in South Wales including office, retail, residential and commercial facilities. Many regional and national quality awards have been achieved and a deep understanding of the entire development process has been achieved.

The latest element of the Capital Quarter scheme is Block K which is a multi-storey car park facility and the fourth major structure on the site. This building is immediately adjacent to the two prime office buildings that together will provide on completion 165,000 sq.ft of Grade A office accommodation. Number 1 Capital Quarter has already been purchased by the Welsh Government and is now 70% let. All four structures have been piled by Aarsleff, who have worked with JR Smart on many regional developments over the past 18 years.

The car park construction is on a former industrial estate. The structure was designed by Cardiff-based chartered architects, surveyors and urban designers morgan2hayman architects Limited with Consulting Engineers, RVW Consulting Ltd. and will provide multi-storey parking for 296 cars. The foundation layout required 207 precast concrete and 14 tubular steel piles to be placed up to 15 metres deep.

Aarsleff project manager, Nathan Sale, supervised the piling program. “We had previously piled the three adjacent structures and have established a good working relationship with the JR Smart team. It is a sensible two-way communications relationship which works well for both parties aiming to move the projects along at best possible speed.

“For this operation we worked out a strategy to limit noise and vibration as construction was still underway on one of the new buildings. We also had to meet with Network Rail to ensure a safe system of work to protect their adjacent line. From our surveys and site knowledge we predicted a challenging drive scenario for the piling as there is a two-metre deep band of hard sand and gravel running across the site and we needed the full power of the Junttan PM20 piling rig.”

Gareth Smart, development director, JR Smart, is in charge of the development process at Capital Quarter, and said: “We have worked with Aarsleff on many developments and as expected this project ran true to schedule. We had cleared the site a couple of years ago and were able to provide a good stable and level base for the rig to operate on. Fortunately we have plenty of easy access for the pile delivery and holding. The drive went well and the crew were meticulous in positioning the rig. We expect to be working with Aarsleff again soon. We have applied for planning permission for a 23-storey block of apartments so we can foresee five more years’ development on this site.”

The precast reinforced concrete piles used by Aarsleff are manufactured by subsidiary company Centrum Pile Ltd at their state-of-the-art facility at Newark, Nottinghamshire.

With headquarters in Denmark, the UK facility is one of four including Sweden and Poland which give a production capacity of 3.2million metres of piles annually.

Casting is a fully automatic process using bespoke machines designed by Centrum specifically for pile production with self-compacting concrete which does not require vibration. Detailed mix and product data records are maintained for full product traceability, which can be seen on each piles bar-code reference. Piles are manufactured in sizes from 200 x 200mm up to 450 x 450mm in lengths from 4m to 15metres with high-grade steel reinforcement being incorporated during fabrication.

For the latest Capital Quarter structure 207 concrete piles sized 300 x 300mm were driven home between 10m and 12 metres in depth for a 600 – 900kN pile load. A further 14 tubular steel piles sized 339mm diameter were driven up to 15 metres for a maximum 900kN pile load.

Main Contractor: JR Smart Ltd

Piling Contractor: Aarsleff Ground Engineering Ltd

Construction Date: April 2015

Scope of Works: 207no 300mm section precast piles, 14no 339mm steel tube piles

Project value: £176k

Equipment: Junttan PM20

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