Skanska’s team working on The Knightsbridge Estate project in London celebrated reaching the highest point of the building with a topping out ceremony on 16 January.
The project makes up a third of the prestigious Knightsbridge Estate and combines 340,000 sq ft of retail, commercial, residential and restaurant space in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. The ceremony was attended by members of the team, supply chain and asset manager and development manager Chelsfield, who is working on behalf of the customer, The Olayan Group.
The event included a traditional Scandinavian ‘flying of the fir’ in which a fir tree is flown over the building by tower crane for good luck, as well as a final pouring of concrete, in a rooftop ceremony.
Skanska began working on the project just over three years ago, and since then the team has worked to overcome some significant challenges: one of these was working in close proximity to the Piccadilly Tube line. This added considerable complexity to the scheme for two reasons: the redesigning of the station’s access; and installing foundations that do not affect the line or its associated underground infrastructure.
The north-east corner of the project that faces Harvey Nichols incorporated an entrance to the station. This meant the team took the opportunity to not only relocate its position along the Brompton Road, thereby freeing up prime retail space, but also to provide step-free access via a new entrance to Knightsbridge underground from Hoopers Court at the same time.
The building is targeting environmental standards to achieve both BREEAM excellent and very good.
John Birch, Project Director at Skanska, commented: “From its inception this project has incorporated a number of extremely complex elements. These include a tube line, a conservation area and a retained façade, which almost entirely wraps around the whole site.
“To overcome these challenges, everybody involved embraced digital technology, including the adoption of BIM to create and share key information about the project. This has helped us to communicate exceptionally well and avoid any delays to the project’s programme.
“With nearly 15,000 documents being used, it is vital that the management of this information is clearly defined, especially in the design process. By using digital technology at an early stage, it enabled the team to scrutinise and coordinate the building elements way ahead of construction, removing a huge portion of risk. This innovative approach is helping us to deliver a more efficient project for our customer.”
Jonathan Shelton, Managing Director Europe, Real Estate for The Olayan Group, said: “From the outset, it was important to everybody involved in this project that we created and maintained a strong relationship. This has helped us to deliver a project that benefits the communities that surround The Knightsbridge Estate, as well as improving facilities that already existed, like creating step-free access to Knightsbridge Tube Station. We are delighted with the work so far and very pleased to be celebrating this construction milestone with everybody involved.”
The project is valued at £152 million and is due to complete in April 2021.