16 May 2012
The R245 million construction was undertaken in just 12 months and the mall offers a gross lettable area of 37 000 square metres and 2 222 parking bays.
Aveng Grinaker-LTA managing director Grahame McCaig explains that this challenging time frame was achieved by incorporating the innovative “tilt-up” construction process into the project.
Tilt-up is a building technique in which concrete elements – such as walls, floors, columns and structural supports are cast and cured on site and then tilted up from horizontal to vertical with a crane, braced into position and later secured.
At Newcastle Mall, tilt-up was used for all perimeter and loading yard walls, McCaig states.
“The client selected tilt-up as it is much quicker than conventional building processes and the building was completely closed up in a relatively short period of time,” he notes.
He says tilt-up construction consists of two stages - the casting of the panels on surface beds or sacrificial beds and lifting of the panels into position.
It is a process that requires skill and precision, but since it eliminates many of the requirements of conventional brickwork such as access scaffolding, tilt-up is worth the effort.
Lower maintenance costs are a further benefit of tilt-up.
There is virtually no long term maintenance needed of unpainted tilt-up walls, making this method far cheaper in the long run than conventional plastered walls that have to be painted and maintained on a regular basis over time, he says.
When lifted, the tilt-up panels are basically a finished product.
Ensuring the supply of the required volumes of concrete needed to cast the tilt-up panels and meet the tight construction programme was one of Aveng Grinaker-LTA's challenges on this contract.
McCaig says that the contractor also overcame sequencing challenges.
The order of various elements had to be carefully planned, to ensure the correct sequence of events, from surface bed construction of the concrete panels, to the time the panels need to be in bracing bays for support, through to the construction of the roof structure.
Space constraints were also a consideration.
“The tilt-up panel stacks took up a fair amount of space on site and all other activities had to be planned around these areas.”
While tilt-up is a faster process than conventional construction techniques, it requires a testing degree of precision in terms of the placement of the panels.
“Alignment of the tilt-up panels has to be 100 percent perfect, in order to ensure the precise positioning of the external finishes such as ceiling shadowlines against the panels,”
McCaig points out that at Newcastle Mall, tilt-up proved its value, with the end result being an attractive, upmarket shopping centre that's set to be a boon for the local community.
A total of 9 510 cubic metres of concrete was used in this project, together with 423 tonnes of reinforcing steel and 1 930 000 bricks.
Aveng Grinaker-LTA is a subsidiary of the Aveng Group, the largest infrastructure development group listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
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