Thru-Wall helps St. Pancras sparkle

Two of the construction industry’s most respected companies have joined forces to offer a unique approach to the design, manufacture and installation of structural insulated panels which has already helped to restore the 5-star St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London.

Appointed to complete the roof and wall cladding packages, building envelope specialists Lakesmere worked closely with supply chain partner Hemsec Installations to create an off-site solution that helped to overcome the many challenges this high-profile project presented. This collaboration led to the creation of Thru-Wall, an innovative new modular structural insulated panels system that proved to be ideally suited for use on a site with such an extremely tight footprint and in particular, on the east elevation of the new hotel that is situated just 300mm from the external wall of the existing St Pancras Station.

Having established that traditional methods of construction were impractical, Lakesmere looked to its supply chain. Joining forces with manufacturer Hemsec Installations, the two companies worked together to collaboratively develop a bespoke off-site design solution that would not only meet the logistical requirements of the project but crucially, would comply with the stringent fire safety requirements demanded by the project’s insurers.

The solution was to use a factory-manufactured timber structural insulated panel comprising an outer frame of sustainable FSC certified timber board, assembled and injected with environmentally safe and inert polyurethane foam thus producing rigid storey-height panels 2.7 metres in length. This process provides a similar thermal mass to a larger equivalent lightweight block as well as making a significant contribution to the wall U value.

The prepared panels were fitted with lifting beams, then cut and routed to create three types of standard panel including mansard, feature panels and stair panels with all window openings incorporated. The pre-clad wall panels were then assembled and subsequently stored at the factory in carefully planned construction sequence to prepare for efficient 'just in time' delivery to site.

Transport to site using a low loader vehicle enabled the vertical stacking of the wall panels at the factory to be replicated during transport, thus avoiding double handling and providing an opportunity for the client to inspect panels prior to installation. The wall panel delivery phasing was linked closely with the planned progress of installation works and enabled the installation of one wall panel every thirty minutes, around five times faster than traditional methods of insulated wall construction.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel demonstrates the many benefits that off-site manufacturing can bring to a project including the environmental credentials offered by timber, the speed of construction despite tight building footprints, greater quality control due factory controlled conditions, improvements in site safety as a result of the lightweight nature of the product and simplicity of installation and not least the cost benefits for the client.

Maximising the individual skills and expertise of the two companies to provide full accountability, Thru-Wall is set to be a true collaborative venture with Hemsec Installations manufacturing and installing the SIPS panels and Lakesmere providing design and technical support as well as undertaking the external cladding. Thru-Wall also comes complete with a full, latent defect 20-year SIPS/external finish insurance cover - the only combined cover available in the UK. 

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