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Working details A WALKWAY WITH A SUSPENDED SERVICE DUCT

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BUILDING STUDY; SMITHFIELD BUILDINGS, MANCHESTER

The conversion of a 1904 four-storey department store into apartments, with retail spaces at ground and basement level, is now complete. The store is built of brick with cast-iron columns and steel beams. Apartments have been ranged along the external walls around two lightwells. One of these is original, and this has been given a new glazed roof on original trusses supported by original cast-iron columns. Access to the apartments is via a series of walkways which run round the lightwells.

The apartments are designed with large living spaces on the street side, bedrooms on the lightwell side and kitchens and bathrooms between. The bedroom, kitchens and bathrooms are set on a new floor deck raised over the existing floor, with three steps descending to the living space. The raised floor provides space for services: light, power, water, telephone, ventilation for kitchen and bathroom, intruder and fire alarms. The services are taken to the apartments by a service 'ring', located below the walkways; some services are secured directly to the underside of the walkway, others are fixed to a cable-tray which runs below them and acts as as a suspended ceiling which houses the lighting to the walkways.

The walkways consist of a steel frame - a series of 127 x 152mm T-shaped steel bearers cantilevered from the main steel structure and braced at their ends by 200 x 100mm steel angles. The floor and balustrades are of reclaimed pitch-pine boards to reduce sound reverberation. The floor is laid on joists fixed to the bearers. The timber balustrades are fixed to 70 x 8mm steel balusters bolted to the angles.

The pitch-pine handrail rests on a series of steel bar supports bolted to a continuous steel flat; it is connected to the balusters by shaped steel brackets.

Susan Dawson

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