Elephant Park Provides ‘Jumbo’ Logistics Challenge

Residents of two major apartment buildings in a new London development get their own bit of ‘open space’ with Sapphire offsite-manufactured balconies – but they will probably have no idea of the technology, skills and management needed to get them installed. Part of Lendlease’s massive Elephant Park redevelopment at Walworth, south of the Thames, buildings H4 and H5 were built to designs by architects Alford Hall Monaghan Morris.

Elephant Park is a vast £2.5 billion, 28 acre redevelopment by Lendlease at Elephant and Castle, in the heart of the capital. This landmark project is being delivered in partnership with Southwark Council and is primed to deliver significant social value not only to the residents of Elephant Park, but also the surrounding community.

The scheme will bring 3,000 new homes with both rental and ownership opportunities, 1,000 new jobs and up to 50,000 sqft of workspace to the area once complete, as well as extensive green spaces, shops and amenities. Lendlease has taken a holistic approach not only generating homes but nurturing a neighbourhood and sense of community surrounding Elephant Park.

Elephant Park has set itself the high ambition of being among the most sustainable inner-city urban regeneration projects in the world, aiming to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2025 and absolute zero by 2040.  This is in line with the challenging environmental targets that Lendlease has set itself.

Designs for H4 and H5 included balconies – 235 and 184 respectively – to be manufactured offsite. Sapphire was selected as the chosen specialist manufacturer thanks to our products incorporating the best in materials and technology  (the embodied carbon of a Sapphire balcony is already lower than that of its concrete counterparts – the embodied carbon of aluminium is estimated at 2.44 tonnes per balcony compared with 3.79 for steel and 4.23 for concrete) which added to the overall sustainability of the development. Sapphire balconies are almost entirely recyclable – an important consideration for this development and its stringent carbon reduction and sustainability targets.  The project also brought interesting challenges that sparked fresh thinking and led to new solutions.

Delivering more than 400 balconies to two installation subcontractors working on the adjacent buildings, meant we had to adapt our usual central London delivery strategies.

To comply with the site’s traffic management plan – and to minimise difficulties on congested local roads – we prioritised manoeuvrability over capacity and switched from articulated lorries to rigid vehicles. This had the added advantage of reducing pressure on site space for holding the balconies ahead of being craned into position

A total of 419 Glide On™ aluminium Cassette® balconies were manufactured for, the two buildings, all featuring a new extruded handrail profile and vertical bar balustrades to the architects’ specification. Balustrades for H5 were burgundy in colour – an unusual choice that appears more or less red in different lights – adding emphasis to the building.

Most of the balconies had controlled drainage, with rainwater channelled down 400mm soffit trays to discharge on the outer edge – preventing staining of the façade or flooding of balconies beneath.  They were all designed originally without soffits, but some of these were added later where necessary to ensure compliance with updated fire safety regulations. Some balconies were also provided with privacy screens. Inset Glide-On balconies were provided for a single stack on one of the buildings.

As an early stage of the process, Sapphire M30 anchors, incorporating thermal breaks and factory-assembled stubs, were cast into the floor slabs. These anchors are designed to provide superior rigidity through the two-piece galvanised steel support arms which are added in readiness to receive the Glide-On™ Cassette® balconies.

As London moves towards a cleaner, greener environment, the Sapphire Balconies at Elephant Park will enable residents to enjoy their surroundings for many years to come.