Work on the new Computational Foundry in Swansea continues with the new brick façade being erected. The project, run by main contractor Willmott Dixon, have utilised Sterling Services' precast concrete design which incorporates fully coursed half-bricks set into the concrete to provide a brick finish that would have been an ambitious undertaking for even the most accomplished of brick layers.
Across the Computational Foundry project there are 640 separate panels that are due to be installed, with just 10 variations amongst them.
The panels feature the fully coursed cut half-bricks that are set within 150 mm thick reinforced concrete panels at Sterling Services' Taunton based casting yard.
Each of these bricks – an Ibstock yellow – are cut longitudinally into two. There are 250,000 bricks being used on this scheme - 500,000 half-bricks in total.
Sterling Services went to Italy to find a machine that could automatically cut that number of bricks. Panel production is quite a simple system. The half-bricks are placed in plastic mould liners that allow the team to point them – a bucket handle finish – from the rear. Then the rebar cage with hooks and lifting eyes is positioned and the mould filled with standard precasting mix concrete. Any extras to the design such as bat boxes or mountings for CCTV systems can also be accommodated at this stage.
The moulds are stripped quickly with the panels stockpiled to cure, before being driven to site and hoisted into position directly from the delivery wagons using the mobile crane the team has in place. The final finish is a perfectly lined up brickwork façade that would have added to the project’s cost and delivery timescale if traditional systems had been used.