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STRUCTURE

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A lengthy Lottery funding process saw the bulk of the detailed structural design work telescope down into three months. To meet the deadlines and facilitate the least possible risk of programme overrun, two teams were assigned to the project, one for the Victoria Hall refurbishment, the other for the new foyer and service building.

In the hall, the main access and storage areas behind the stage had to be enlarged. Walls from this area, which supported a five-tonne organ, were removed and replaced with paired steel box frames designed to spread the loads uniformly to the foundations. Underpinning was carried out to construct the reinforced-concrete service trenches below ground, with structural works supporting the organ overhead.

Enlarging the stage affected the sight lines, so the pitch and length of the balconies had to be altered. They were reconstructed to match their original form in structural timber, spanning between the existing riveted steel trusses.

The foyer building, designed in 'Minimalist' style, had to be robust and durable with good acoustic separation between the floors. A reinforced- concrete-framed structure was adopted with exposed soffits and columns all carefully detailed for simple yet striking appearance.

The glass-clad atrium linking new with old was framed in exposed steel with a barrel-vaulted roof. Tapering feature column heads supported the main roof beams.

Two exposed concrete link bridges span the atrium to provide access. Channels were cast into their surfaces to support cantilever glass balustrades, and illumination was fitted into the soffits. The bridges were acoustically separated from the hall and independently supported on fully welded steel Vierendeel frames, which also provided overall stability for the atrium.

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