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Making an entrance

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Development Securities engaged the Manser Practice to give a new lease of life to Grove House in Ashford, Kent, a tired 1970s concrete-framed commercial building which consists of 10 shop units and 1,600m 2of office space on the two upper floors.

A key problem was that access to the offices was limited to an understated sideentrance and one of two staircases tucked into the corners at each end of the building.

The Manser Practice designed a new entrance, lift and staircase on the side of the building, providing access at the centre of each floor rather than in the corner.

As the existing building was designed with almost no capacity for additional loading, this new entrance had to be self-supporting. The lift shaft forms the backbone of this new structure. The staircase and landings wrap around the shaft and are cantilevered either directly from the shaft or suspended from Macalloy bars from a cantilevered structure off the top of the shaft.

A separate cantilevered steel truss supports the new plant room. This houses chiller units designed to feed each of the office floors below. But the architects have stopped short of providing an air-handling system within each floor; it is being left up to individual tenants to decide whether they want a connection. The plan is that occupiers can run ducts down the centre of the office floor between the pairs of columns which form a 2m wide corridor down the centre of the rectangular footplate. The architects had to work around a tight structure to keep to a minimum floor to ceiling height of 2,436mm. There are new metal suspended ceilings and raised floors providing a 50mm void - just enough room for cabling.

The facades have been upgraded: ribbon windows have been replaced; the roof has been recovered; and the cladding - a mixture of pebble-dashed precast concrete panels and brick - has been painted.

The Manser Practice has added muchneeded sparkle to a rather unimaginative building, and the new entrance will make the office space easier to let.

CREDITS

CLIENT Development Securities

ARCHITECT The Manser Practice

ENGINEER Pell Frischmann

QUANTITY SURVEYOR Potter Raper

M&E ENGINEER BWS Partnership

SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS steel fabrication Lee Warren; glazing Planar Glazing - EAG; ribbon windows Barlow Architectural; precast concrete treads Pallam; precast floor tiles Galaxy Granite Pilkington Tile;suspended ceiling Dampa (UK)

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