Innovation at the Heart of the Arena Quarter
The Leeds Arena is a hugely impressive development, which has been wholly successful for the city. It can sometimes be difficult to see past the Arena and take a look at how this part of the city, as a whole, has been transformed.
The existing Merrion Centre has recently undergone a major refurbishment and the building is now acting as a centrepiece in the Arena Quarter of the city. The design and construction work that facilitated the re-birth of the Merrion Centre is an active demonstration of how it has become a real 21st Century building.
Curtins were the Structural Engineer for the refurbishment works and our greatest challenge came in the upgrade of the existing car park.
The existing car park deck had previously been investigated and proven to require works to address inherent structural defects. Given the importance of the car park to the Merrion Centre, it was essential that it remained fully operational during the works. Prior to our involvement, the design proposals involved the removal and replacement of the existing car park decks. Needless to say, this option was not considered to be viable given the two-storey retail space on the ground and first floor; and the single entrance and exit, further complicating the works required to remove individual floor plates.
We developed an alternative solution that utilises Kevlar carbon fibre reinforcement to the underside of the existing car park decks, removing the requirement for the existing deck to be replaced. This alternative design removed the requirement for demolition works within the existing car park; reducing the health & safety risks to the general public and the building tenants. The impact on the transport network was also greatly reduced, given the significant reduction in construction traffic.
The non-intrusive nature of the solution (effectively ‘Structural Wallpapering’) allowed a greater number of car park spaces to remain open during the construction works, maximising revenues for the client. The solution also reduced the construction period meaning the client had a fully refurbished, operational car park, many months earlier than originally planned. Whilst this is clearly important for the client, it is also important for the Yorkshire economy, given that the car park is being used as Arena parking.
This is the first time this innovative solution has been used for strengthening slabs in the UK and demonstrates the willingness of the Yorkshire Property Industry to embrace technologies from around the globe and use them on local projects. It is also a testament to the enterprising spirit of our client, who has supported this innovative solution and recognised the advantages such a solution has brought to the project.
Merrion Car Park is one of Leeds’ most iconic and busiest car parks, and is used for event parking for Leeds Arena. This means that people from around the UK (and indeed from around the world) will see evidence that the Yorkshire construction industry is at the forefront of innovative technologies.