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Manchester United stars turn to Galliford Try to deliver tightly sited hotel

Supporters will soon be able to watch the game before going back to their hotel for a kickabout a mere stone’s throw away.

Project: Hotel Football, Old Trafford
Client: GG Hospitality
Contract value: £13.5m
Contract type: Design and build
Region: North-west
Main contractor: Galliford Try

In days gone by ex-footballers would hang up their boots and pick up an apron to become the landlord of The Dog and Duck in a leafy outpost of the country, boring regulars with tales of their playing days and how they were criminally overlooked for international honours.

For members of Manchester United’s ‘Class of 92’ squad, pulling pints for the rest of their lives doesn’t appeal. Instead, they are looking at the other end of the hospitality business by opening up football-themed hotels and restaurants.

Five members of that team – Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Gary and Phil Neville – have collaborated on building a 138-bed four-star hotel in the shadow of Old Trafford.

Hotel Football will feature a fans’ bar – the Old Trafford Supporters Club – as well as banqueting and conference facilities, a rooftop five-a-side pitch and the latest Café Football restaurant – a chain owned by Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.

Touch-tight with canal

Sitting on a difficult triangular slice of land, the site is hemmed in by the Bridgewater Canal on one side, Sir Matt Busby Way on another and the less romantically named A5081 on the third.

“It is a difficult parcel of land that had been ignored for years. It used to be part of a wider area of warehouses before the dual carriageway was put through”

Rob Deakin, Galliford Try

Behind the hotel’s construction is a Galliford Try team led by senior project manager Rob Deakin.

“It is a difficult parcel of land that had been ignored for years,” he says. “It used to be part of a wider area of warehouses before the dual carriageway was put through. We took it on as a brownfield site in March 2013.”

Clearing the site took some time but the first real construction phase of the project involved the installation of a contiguous piled wall running alongside the canal’s towpath.

Waterside construction

A temporary works schedule of sheet piles and propping helped to alleviate concerns about the installation of permanent foundations so close to an undrained canal.

“There is a 6 m exposure length on the piles, which are 18 m long in total,” Mr Deakin says. “We were working tight alongside the canal, within 1 m in places.”

By creating a ramp and taking the piling rig down, the team was able to install the 900 mm-diameter piles for the contiguous wall, as well as the 200 or so 450 mm-diameter CFA piles which push through to depths of 18 m.

The frame of the building springs from the pile caps and base slab at canal level, which is actually a storey below the ground-floor entrance level at Sir Matt Busby Way.

It is a traditional cast in-situ reinforced concrete frame. The team did look at other methods but they were dismissed as unsuitable or financially unviable.

Traditional solutions over modern

Precast concrete was out of the equation due to the site’s awkward shape, as the scheme didn’t offer the repetition needed to make precasting viable.

“It is a very traditional reinforced concrete frame. We looked at post-tensioning but that would’ve added around £50,000 to the price and it just wasn’t worth it”

Rob Deakin, Galliford Try

Steel framing was also rejected – it was decided that using concrete would make it easier to meet acoustic constraints. Even the use of post-tensioning systems in the floor slabs was rejected.

“It is a very traditional reinforced concrete frame,” Mr Deakin says. “We looked at post-tensioning but that would’ve added around £50,000 to the price and it just wasn’t worth it.

“We thought this method offered the most flexibility during construction and the best performance when in use.”

There is a nominal 7 m column grid but the building is so non-uniform that even that grid is loose.

Pile caps feature in clusters around the site and vary between 1.2 m and 2 m in thickness with the slab depth set at 275 mm, all cast using table forms.

In another departure from the norm, most of the self-weight of the frame is taken down through the traditional method of the structure’s walls, rather than the more modern technique that would have used the three stair and lift cores that are located in the building.

There is plenty of steel reinforcement throughout the building which helps transfer the loads across from the slabs and onto the outer frame. In places, rebar diameters of up to 50 mm have been used at 200 mm centres, but again the bar diameters vary across the project depending on the scale of the loading.

The three lift and stair cores that rise through the building have been constructed using standard shuttered formwork rather than slipforms. Again, any gain that slipforming may have delivered were outweighed by their cost.

Pouring forward

The site team used a static concrete pump to help place the concrete, with pours of up to 100 cu m being carried out at any one time.

“Some of the pours took almost five hours to complete,” Mr Deakin says. “We would start at 10:30am and pour through until 3pm.

“Generally there would be around 15 wagons ready to bring material to site from the batching plants, before being poured using just the one static pump. The structure was eventually topped out in April.”

Concrete mix design was a standard C40 concrete for most of the structure, but with a C60 mix for some of the columns where quicker strength gain and greater final strength was needed. All concrete was supplied from Cemex and Bardon Concrete local batching plants.

Now the partitions and plasterboard are being installed throughout and site workers are adding fittings for the hotel rooms, all eyes are starting to focus on the ninth floor – the sliding roofed five-a-side pitch.

If England’s showing at the World Cup this year is anything to go by, new facilities can’t come quickly enough.

Cladding creates striking structure

With more than 76,000 spectators cramming into the Old Trafford ground every matchday and countless others from around the world visiting the self-proclaimed ‘Theatre of Dreams’ in some sort of semi-religious pilgrimage each week, the new Hotel Football will be under more scrutiny than most newly completed buildings when it opens for business later this year.

And the site’s triangular footprint and structure shape means it is open to critical appraisal from all angles.

With this in mind, Manchester-based architect AEW has designed the building to be visually striking.

With a mixture of Eternit rainscreen cladding, glazing systems and a steel support structure that reflects the stadium’s cantilevered roof, the Galliford Try team has brought on two façade specialists to help complete the scheme.

Wigan-based company Astley Facades is installing the rainscreen tiled façade system. Kingston-Upon-Hull specialist Commercial Systems International installing the glazing systems, which includes the floor-to-ceiling height glass at lower-ground floor and ground-floor levels on the Bridgewater Canal side.


Prefab pods make for early baths

Although the shape of the building has precluded the use of precast concrete systems in all but the stair cores, there is one other place where the team has been able to exploit prefabrication advantages on the project.

The Galliford Try team called in Bathsystem UK to manufacture and install bathrooms for all of the hotel’s 138 bedrooms.

“They are actually manufactured in Italy,” says Mr Deakin. “The quality of the completed pods is so high that they are perfect for this project.”

Between March and May this year, 15 of the pods were being shipped and delivered to site each week.

Each is craned off the delivery lorry and onto site before being manoeuvred around each level, shifted into position and connected up to the risers and service panels, which are shared between two back-to-back bathroom pods.

“They were a little awkward to trolley around the site and manoeuvre into position, but once located, the services are just plugged in and they’re ready to go,” he says.

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