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Lafarge Tarmac pumps it long at Wembley with self-compacting concrete

When Buckingham Group was chosen to refurbish Wembley’s Bobby Moore Room, it had to do so while offices remained occupied and tours kept operating. Enter Lafarge Tarmac’s self-compacting concrete.

When Wembley Stadium was rebuilt to the tune of £798m, making it one of the most expensive stadium-building projects in history, it was clear that maximising its revenue-generating potential would be crucial to its future success.

The Football Association acted swiftly to use the venue as much as possible – keeping the FA Cup semi-finals there despite some fan opposition, and even inviting sports such as the NFL to play high-profile games at the famous football venue.

A large part of the stadium’s capacity to earn money is, of course, its hospitality facilities.

Like any modern sports arena, corporate hospitality forms a big part of its revenue stream – and Wembley is no different.

With a full calendar of events in 2015 and beyond, the FA took the decision to expand the venue’s 3,480 sq m main hospitality suite, the Bobby Moore Room, by a further 300 sq m to cater for additional seating.

Material choice

Main contractor Buckingham Group had just 12 weeks to complete the refurbishment – with Studwelders Composite Floor Decks and Lafarge Tarmac supplying and laying the flooring system within four weeks.

The first challenge for the team was to select the right materials.

High residual strength and durability were musts, with the screed required to have a surface regularity of at least SR3 quality.

To accommodate the client’s tight timescale, Lafarge Tarmac quickly developed a high-grade, horizontal-type, self-compacting concrete.

“This was the perfect project to showcase the self-compacting concrete solution at its best – albeit a high-profile one, but that’s the kind of project we specialise in”

Michael Ross, Lafarge Tarmac

The material was specifically designed to blend steel and micro-polypropylene fibres, which could be laid and cured within the short timeframe while still delivering a resilient finish.

This also negated the need for steel mesh within the deck construction and provided greater crack control for the mix.

“We’d been collaborating with Studwelders on this solution for the design, supply and install of self-compacting concrete on a metal deck for some time,” explains Lafarge Tarmac flooring solutions business manager Michael Ross.

“This was the perfect project to showcase the solution at its best – albeit a high-profile one, but that’s the kind of project we specialise in.”

Pitch pump

The team accessed the site via the stadium’s north entrance, transporting equipment underneath the stands.

The concrete was supplied from Lafarge Tarmac’s Park Royal Plant, just 5 km away.

Another challenge was finding the right place to install the concrete pump.

“It was absolutely critical that there was no material spillage, as the hallowed turf needed to remain in pristine condition”

Michael Ross, Lafarge Tarmac

The only suitable location for the pump was between the players’ tunnel and the pitch, meaning the concrete had to be pumped up from ground level, over the stand and up to the Bobby Moore Room on level one.

“It was absolutely critical that there was no material spillage, as the hallowed turf needed to remain in pristine condition, so we had to be extra careful when transporting the concrete,” Mr Ross says.

Stadium tours also remained fully operational throughout the programme, with offices on the mezzanine floor above the suite and adjacent to the site also occupied, adding additional health and safety factors.

Concrete benefits

The steel fibre mix added to the concrete blend had a safety benefit, too, as no fabric sheet mesh needed to be transported and cut on site.

With the material laid directly onto the metal deck, hazards around placing the steel mesh and moving reinforcement bars around an enclosed site were reduced.

The concrete also removed the need for on-site storage, as well as the heavy lifting gear and length delivery times often associated with using mesh, which in turn reduced the preparation time required – again, helping keep the tight programme on track.

“The way the site and the pour was managed meant that we could keep operations and tours running as normal”

Lee Snelling, Buckingham Group

Buckingham Group project manager Lee Snelling describes the concrete solution used as “impressive”.

“It contributed to helping us turn around the project in such a short timeframe,” he says.

“The way the site and the pour were managed meant we could keep operations and tours running as normal.

“The quietness of the installation process was particularly important so we didn’t disturb others visiting or working in the stadium.”

Pouring and levelling

In all, around 50 cu m of the concrete was pumped using a 43 m Schwing boom operated by South Coast Pumping.

The boom was extended into the stand, where it took four members of the crew to oversee the material’s flow and ensure it was levelled on the metal platform in the suite.

The properties of the mix meant there was no need for a power floating operation – the surface finish was still of equivalent quality, both in terms of level tolerance and flatness.

No steel fibres were let floating at the surface, either, and the lack of power tools required helped contribute to a quieter site – crucial given the occupied offices nearby and ongoing tours.

Once the material was poured and levelled, the job was done.

“It took under five hours to complete the job from our perspective,” Mr Ross says.

“This was a huge reduction on more traditional methods and meant we were able to make a significant contribution to the client’s overall build schedule.”

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