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25 years of loving construction: Victoria Wharf, Cardiff

A picture of Victoria Wharf, Cardiff

LOVING CONSTRUCTION: SCS Group installed its UniVent standard smoke shaft system throughout Victoria Wharf, Cardiff

In the run-up to SCS Group’s 25th anniversary in December, we are publishing a series of case studies looking back at our work over the years. In the fourth in the series, we look back at Victoria Wharf, Cardiff – a Bryant Homes residential development.

OVER the past 30 years Cardiff Bay has been the subject of an incredible transformation, with retail, entertainment and residential areas being created.

Being part of this transformation is something SCS Group is proud of, working on sites including Bryant Homes’ Victoria Wharf.

‘Lovely project’

The project – which we worked on about a decade ago – is fondly remembered by Managing Director Allan Meek, who was involved right from the early stages and recalls it as a “lovely project”.

The Bay was the hub of Wales’ successful coal and export industries, a drop in trade following the Second World War saw the area eventually turn into an abandoned wasteland.

A picture of Victoria Wharf, Cardiff

Victoria Wharf, Cardiff

BBC News describes how the Bay’s transformation began back in April 1987 when Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was set up to regenerate the 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) of dockland between Cardiff and Penarth.

In a story on its website BBC News says: “Part of the British government’s Urban Development Programme – to regenerate deprived areas of inner cities – its aim was to ‘put Cardiff on the international map’ and boost the image and economic wellbeing of the area’.”

The Victoria Wharf Project included the development of a brownfield site in Cardiff’s Grangetown area, adjacent to the mouth of the Ely River. A number of our staff still enjoy regularly seeing the development as they travel along the Cardiff Bay Link Road towards Penarth to take part in their regular Penarth ABC fitness sessions.

UniVent system installed

SCS Group was appointed to install its UniVent system in all seven residential apartment blocks, which housed a total of 478 apartments constructed over three phases. We employed a lean consultant to work with our team in liaison with Taylor Woodrow and Bailey Electrical to analyse the delivery of the UniVent system, particularly the site co-ordination and installation.

Allan Meek said: “This was a lovely project to be involved with. We were introduced by Matthew Williams of McCann and Partners and were able to assist HMA architects in designing the floor layouts efficiently to remove firefighting lobbies that weren’t required under Approved Document B.”

Allan added: “I was heavily involved in the early stages and felt like part of the team with Taylor Woodrow – later Wimpey – who had a refreshingly open and collaborative approach to construction. It was the early days of smoke shafts and we had recently launched our UniVent system, the first of its kind.

“It was Kevin Hibbs – now of Sir Robert McAlpine – who suggested we get it Type-approved by LABC. We followed this up with Graham Bond at Cardiff City Building Control and it became the first Type-approved smoke control system in the country.”

A picture of one of the stairwell ventilators installed at Victoria Wharf, Cardiff

One of the stairwell ventilators installed at Victoria Wharf, Cardiff

Installing the UniVent system throughout Victoria Wharf resulted in a low-cost maintenance solution with predictable final costs. We installed safety grids for smoke shafts prior to construction of the shaft which eliminated a potential fall hazard and saved the cost of scaffold within the shaft. In addition, a combined stairwell ventilator/access hatch was used for every stairwell at Victoria Wharf, instead of the separate vent and access hatch originally proposed, saving the cost of the access hatch.

Kevin Hibbs said at the time: “This is the first, possibly the only, Type-approved naturally ventilated smoke management system in the UK. It has been developed by working collaboratively and is due in part to the excellent relationship we have with Graham Bond, and his team, who we have worked very closely with on the whole development.”