The Walbrook Project, Central London
Teamwork the key to project success
Quality products, technical expertise, equipment integration – all vital to ensure a successful M&E project, but overarching this is often a simple fact of life – that working closely and effectively as a team with other businesses involved in that project will ensure that it progresses in a way that sees everyone smiling when the project has been completed.
That was certainly the case with the Walbrook project – a large new office development in central London. One of London’s newest buildings, The Walbrook Building leads the way with cutting edge design combined with a host of energy efficient features including in the heating and cooling systems, that takes building construction firmly into the 21st century. Situated in the heart of the city, The Walbrook Building lies in a prominent position directly opposite Cannon Street station and adjacent to Christopher Wren’s church of St Stephen Walbrook.
This landmark nine storey building was developed by Minerva Plc and designed by internationally renowned architects Foster + Partners and comprises in total some 445,000 square feet of air-conditioned offices, incorporating two atria together with premium retail areas.
The heating and cooling system in a building of this quality is a vital consideration and you have to get it right. Selecting the right M&E contractors and then the right components for the system is key and utilising the skills and expertise of companies that have a good track record of working together and delivering a quality end product – on time and to budget – is high on every building designer’s list.
Marflow Hydronics is a solution provider for water distribution systems to the building services industry and specialises in developing innovative components and systems for HVAC projects – prefabricated where possible, to provide simple, standardised installation to contribute towards cost effective projects alongside its M&E and manufacturer partners. It has developed a range of valve assemblies that have been designed to control and maintain fan coil units. To make life as simple as possible for everyone, all of the necessary functions have been designed into a package that can be supplied to and installed by the fan coil unit manufacturer over an extended condensate drip tray, offering an easy to fit option for M&E contractors that removes the need for on-site assembly.
Phoenix was appointed M&E contractor for the Walbrook project and contracted to install the fan coil units in the scheme for the first four floors of the building that had been let – levels 3, 5, 6 and 8, fitting out to Category A standard. This involved installing 413 fan coil units on a two pipe chilled system. The building designer for the project drafted the initial schedule of requirements and Phoenix then drew up a schedule of requirements for the heating and cooling system and in this specified the fan coil units it recommended for the project.
Why Marflow Hydronics as a partner?
Phoenix’s Project Manager Sean O’Connor, takes up the story: “We’ve worked with Marflow Hydronics before and very happily, so that was one of the reasons that we specified Diffusion fan coil units. Marflow Hydronics and Diffusion work in partnership and the Diffusion fan coil units arrive on site, prefabricated with the Marflow Hydronics PICV (Pressure Independent Control Valves) in a protective box that ensures they arrive undamaged and in place, along with the actuator and the flushing by-pass valve.”
Marflow Hydronics’ unique offering for fan coil units simplifies system design and enables specifiers to offer their clients a dynamic solution that adds real value throughout the life of the system. Amongst the benefits of the company’s offering are the pre-fabrication of the valve assemblies which reduces risks of errors and delays on site.
Whilst there is a small premium cost for this, it makes huge sense for the units to arrive ready assembled and ready for installation,” says Sean O’Connor, “rather than as individual components that have to be assembled on site with additional labour costs. That was how things used to be ‘pre pre-fabrication’. Then, if one of the components failed to turn up on time, was damaged, or the wrong size it could hold us up significantly, so now we’ve settled happily on specifying these prefabricated units that arrive on time and ready to install. Despite the slightly higher ‘bought in’ cost this still saves us time and installation costs so the price differential is not important in the broader scheme of things. There is also a slightly higher cost for the provision of an extended drip tray as part of the assembly to cope with the Marflow Hydronics valves but again it’s not a significant cost. The drip tray configuration makes it all very clean and efficient and it’s a joy not to have to remove the lagging that used to encase the valves in older installations if we needed to get to them. This new approach, where the valves can ‘sweat’ into a drip tray, is far preferable and makes for easier access if you need to make adjustments at a later date. I was very pleased with Marflow Hydronics’ contribution to the project – you’ll hear no complaints from me!
Martin Lowe, Joint Managing Director at Marflow Hydronics, says this new approach to supplying prefabricated assemblies bolted to the fan coils to speed up installation and improve the quality of installation has been well received. “It’s difficult to believe that this aspect of M&E installation didn’t change for probably forty years and then in the past couple of years it’s changed hugely and rapidly – for the better. Working closely with the fan coil unit manufacturers makes huge sense for everybody concerned and the fact that on the Walbrook project we delivered 413 complete units with only two that required minor adjustment, says it all. Working with Diffusion on these units we were delivering on a two week sign off schedule – fully assembled units ready to slot into the system, without any complex or messy ‘on site’ assembly.”
The Walbrook project has been a resounding success. Phoenix is delighted with the Marflow Hydronics valves and the prefabrication option which saves them time, money and makes installation quicker and easier. Job done! It’s clearly the way forward.