It was a bold move which brought Byldis to London in March 2013. A move that was rewarded immediately. The firm Ballymore commissioned Byldis for 4 residential towers. There are now 10 of them. A whole Island!
London City Island is one of the largest residential developments in the world to be built utilising off-site construction. Bydlis designed, manufactured and installed all of the residential towers totalling more than 1800 apartments.
“No stone strips, but full bricks, with a glazed finish"
Jacco van Dijk
Once upon a time…
‘It’s like a story in a children’s book’, laughs Van Dijk. Once upon a time there was a company in Veldhoven that made precast constructive facade panels, and wanted to conquer the English market. With a modest portfolio of projects, Van Dijk took to the road and “landed” the first towers of the LCI project within two years. ‘Time is short for developers in London, as traditional builders have too little capacity’, explains the CEO of Byldis. He was in the right place at the right time. ‘Our construction method means that these buildings can be completed in a little more than half the time of a traditional construction process. We supply the constructive elements as complete units: including frames, windows and outer facade.’ Everything is produced in Veldhoven and shipped to the British capital. This was the procedure used for ten of the LCI buildings. Byldis is also building in other locations in London, such as Royal Wharf. ‘Yes, it’s really impressive’, says van Dijk. ‘We have learned so much from this project: we have delivered what we promised and not missed a single deadline.’
A lot of research and development took place before the construction phase, in order to ensure that the facade panels would comply with English legislation and building regulations. ‘Almost the entire company followed a course in technical English’, explains Van Dijk. ‘The technical terminology is quite different from the English you use on holiday.’ Byldis took care of the engineering, production and assembly of the towers right from the first storey or stage, that was built on site. ‘English dimensions were used for the bricks. We have worked intensively together with Wienerberger and construction material supplier Bouwcenter Van Hoppe right from the start, and the supply of stone is running perfectly. They understand our system and we have insight into their production methods.’
When the client and architect came up with the idea of using glazed bricks, the development team got together with Bouwcenter Van Hoppe and Wienerberger again. Van Dijk: ‘Glazed bricks cannot be sawn or glued, so a different approach is needed. You start by drawing out the bricks, before starting construction. Necessary measures are taken during the production process to ensure that the bricks cannot be damaged.’ The builder does not want to disclose exactly what these measures are. He smiles: ‘That’s a secret, and we’d like to keep it that way.’
Henderson: If you want true red, a glazed brick is the only option. The client understood this too. And so we had red, but also blue and purple-blue glazes. Whatever the colour of the London sky, the buildings always shine.'
Source: Wienerberger "First the bricks | London City Island".
Video London City Island
Peter McCall, Construction Director Ballymore (our client) explains why they chose for off-site prefabrication, about the Byldis approach, how fast it is and about the collaboration with Byldis.
Peter McCall: "In 2011 it became clear that the capacity of traditional construction methods would not be able to offer a sustainable solution to meet the scale of the workload the company was facing..."