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Thu February 27 2020

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Warwick NAIC pioneers Bubble Deck void forming system

17 Feb 17 Contractors building the National Automotive Innovation Centre at the University of Warwick are saving on concrete by making the biggest UK use of the Danish Bubble Deck void former system.

Bubble Deck void formers (click on image to enlarge)
Bubble Deck void formers (click on image to enlarge)

RMD Kwikform supplied 550 tonnes of formwork equipment to Northfield Construction and main contractor Balfour Beatty, in support of their construction of the £150m National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC).

The 33,000m2 NAIC building is being constructed for Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors and the University of Warwick’s Manufacturing Group to be a research and development centre for the automotive industry.

The four-storey building is due to be completed in 2017. It is designed to be rated BREEAM excellent, with many open atrium areas and roof lights.

To construct the reinforced concrete (RC) frame, RMD Kwikform supplied Northfield Construction with equipment for the columns, decking, cores and lift shafts, including Alshor Plus and Superslim Soldiers to support 17.5-metre drop beams, and trays of large plastic balls that act as a void former system, called Bubble Deck. Bubble Deck was developed in Denmark in 1999 but has not been used in the UK before, according to RMD Kwikform.

According to Bubble Deck's UK representative Paul Harding, however, it has actually been used several times in the UK over the past 10 years, including by Wates on the new West Suffolk House council offices in Bury St Edmonds in 2009. Mr Harding said its use at NAIC was specified by Arup, the project engineer.

RMD says that one of the key challenges on the NAIC project was adhering to the architect’s requirements; all soffits were to be a painted feature with imprinted tramlines at plywood joints. Also, all columns and beams were to be exposed raw concrete features, painted on completion. RMD Kwikform worked with Northfield Construction to design a solution that accommodated the layout of the plywood.

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Northfield construction manager Paul McGarry said: “Initially we were looking into table form systems. However, it would have been difficult to ensure the tramlines on all of the soffits without that second layer of plywood. We ended up choosing RMD Kwikform’s strip and erect Alshor Plus system, this allowed us to completely eliminate the secondary layer of plywood, allowing all ‘featured plywood’ to be fixed and set in the first instance. We were then able to strip and move the system onto the next phase.”

Further works on the project included constructing 22-metre long, 17.25-metre deep, two metre wide drop beams, which were supported with RMD Kwikform’s Superslim Soldier system. The beams ran up to soffit level and then connected to the 525mm-fixed slab where the Bubble Deck void former system was used. Primarily used for lightweight RC construction, a module of pre-fabricated spherical voids was inserted into the slab to reduce the volume of concrete that needed to be poured.

This system then tied into a 300mm RC slab, which in turn sat on drop beams. Some of these sections bring the soffit level up from the ground floor slab by six metres to the second floor slab, where the team on site were taking up beams, decking and platforms. RMD Kwikform has also supplied a spanning solution using Superslim Soldiers to clear the pits at the base level of the structure.

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