It was a bold move that took Byldis to London in March 2013. And this courage was rewarded. In 2014, the firm Ballymore commissioned Byldis to build four residential towers. There are now ten of them, a whole island full! Ten residential towers with a total of around 1750 new apartments for London City Island. And we are not finished yet, as we are currently working on the assembly of Block I (I1 and I2)!
2. Why was Byldis chosen?
Although building with precast sandwich masonry is relatively new in England, in 2014 Ballymore commissioned Byldis to build their very first and most complicated residential tower, consisting of 15 storeys with 134 apartments on London City Island, entirely in precast elements. There is a significant shortage of housing in London, so the faster homes can be built, the better. (Source: Omroep Brabant)
The deciding factor was the proven added value of the Byldis total concept. The fact that everything is supplied ready-made, including window and door frames and outer facade, means that an apartment block can be built much faster. Our construction method means that these buildings can be realised in a little more than half the time of a traditional construction process! Everything is produced in Veldhoven and/or Tilburg and then shipped to the British capital.
We have chosen to use whole bricks for this project, instead of stone strips. This is exceptional considering whole bricks are seldom used in the United Kingdom. The use of whole (glazed) bricks makes London City Island a real eye-catcher.
“No stone strips, but full bricks, with a glazed finish"
Jacco van Dijk, CEO Byldis
3. Challenges & solutions
The challenge at London City Island is the shortest possible construction time and a very tight schedule. Construction must be carried out as quickly as possible in London in order to tackle the enormous housing shortage. The Byldis total concept means that construction can be realised up to 50% faster than traditional methods. The precast elements are made in Veldhoven and Tilburg and then transported every day in lorries to London. This gets the ready-made elements to the construction site as quickly as possible.
Furthermore, English laws and regulations are different than in the Netherlands. A lot of research and development was carried out in advance in order to ensure that the facade panels were compliant with the English laws and regulations. As such, all the Byldis employees involved in this project followed a course in technical English so that they could understand all the specific technical terminology.
When the client and architect came up with the idea for glazed bricks, we put our heads together with Bouwcenter Van Hoppe and Wienerberger. Glazed bricks cannot be sawn or glued, so you need a new approach. You first begin by drawing out the bricks before construction begins. Measures are taken during the production process to ensure that the stones are not damaged. English dimensions have been used for the bricks. Byldis has worked intensively together with Wienerberger and construction materials supplier Bouwcenter Van Hoppe on this right from the start.
We are currently working on the last block for London City Island; Block I. A real challenge as we are going to realise a new office building and car park on an already inhabited island, alongside the only access road (Block I - I1 and I2).
4. Facts & figures
Byldis engineers, produces and supplies the precast elements. This system consists of a complete precast concrete structure, including floors and internal walls, and sandwich facade elements including bricks, window and door frames, glazing and ventilation facilities.
1750 homes, offices, car park
10 residential towers, car park, office
10 residential towers: approx. 1750 homes approx. 3332 sandwich facade elements approx. 6463 internal walls approx. 683 single-walled facade elements
car park: 6 storeys 7.000 m² floor surface 242 parking spaces
office: 8 storeys 5.000 m² floor surface workstations for arount 360 people
Byldis expertise involved
Total concept (Engineering, Prefab, Facades)
Start of production Byldis
Start of assembly Byldis
Expected completion Byldis
residential towers phase 1: 2014 / 2016 phase 2: 2016 up to and including 2018 block I: June 2020
Ballymore properties ltd.
Glenn Howells Architects London (designing architect) and Acanthus Architects LW London (executing architect)
“Once upon a time”. Source: Wienerberger. Interview with Jacco van Dijk, CEO Byldis.
“Large-scale colourful”. Source: Wienerberger. About the development of London City Island from the perspective of David Henderson, studio director at the London branch of Glenn Howells Architects (GHA). Article is in Dutch.