New approach, new balcony install record
With exceeding balcony install expectations in mind, Sapphire working with a Scottish balcony install partner, set a challenge to install more than Sapphire’s long-standing record of 22 balconies in one day. Having hit this with 23 at Pomona Wharf earlier in June, a further 34 balconies were installed in just 6 hours and 13 minutes of balcony installation time on 15th June 2017. That’s an amazing install average of just 10.9 minutes per balcony all day long. Testament to Sapphire’s unique and patented Glide-On™ Cassette® balcony systems, which enables install of fully assembled balconies in rapid times and with improved safety from the traditional bolt-on balcony approach.
Sapphire’s patented Cassette® balcony system is complementing the innovative design and build of a new high-rise development on Pomona Island, one of Greater Manchester’s ‘hidden gems’. The offsite-manufactured system’s fast-track install method, using Sapphire’s patent-protected Glide-On™ connectors, made it possible to install 23 balconies one day and a further 34 projecting balconies during another day, with just three installers and one crane (in two set up positions). Rowlinson Construction’s Project Manager comments:
“Although we hadn’t worked with Sapphire’s modular balcony system before the balcony install went very well and we are all happy with the end product”.
The two adjacent buildings at the new Pomona Wharf development are part of the regeneration of the former dockland site. The 10 and 11 storey apartment blocks have been constructed as complete precast concrete solutions. Individual sections of each building’s shell and envelope were delivered to site ready to be craned into position floor by floor.
Working in tandem with the build programme, Sapphire manufactured over 100 balconies for the project in its offsite lean production facility. Once each building’s floor slabs were cast, complete with thermally broken balcony brackets and cantilever arms. Sapphire began scheduled deliveries of fully assembled balcony units to site. The individual balconies, including glass balustrades and sub-deck, were installed by simply lifting them into position and ‘gliding’ them on to the arms – this method of balcony install saves time and minimises crane hire and associated site costs. A simple solution, unique and patented by Sapphire.
Balconies for the project feature frameless structural glass balustrades from Sapphire’s Crystal range, combined with an slim aluminium capping and durable, slip-resistant WPC composite decking. Unsurprisingly, glass balustrades are a popular choice for residential balcony projects like Pomona Wharf. As well as its enduring aesthetic appeal, glass offers a robust, low maintenance solution. In addition, Sapphire’s unique and simplistic base detailing design enables integration with the Cassette® structure avoiding the need of base channels which are often one of the most costly parts of a frameless structural glass balustrade, making Cassette® balconies a cost-effective choice for developers.
Offsite production fundamental
Offsite construction methods, as used at Pomona Wharf, are increasingly seen as the answer to many of the issues facing the construction industry; from increasing margins for contractors to addressing the housing crisis by reducing build times and labour requirements. Sapphire’s Marketing Manager, Nick Haughton, says Sapphire very much supports this approach. He comments:
“To install 57 balconies in just two days, especially with only a three man balcony install team and a single crane is simply beyond the conceivable possibilities of traditional bolt-on balconies. The achievement of installing 34 balconies in a single day sets a new industry record and is clear testament to our patented balcony innovation”.
Rapid balcony install is not about rushing and mustn’t compromise safety. It’s primarily down to innovative design of balconies, and about working lean and ensuring intelligent sequencing to minimise delays. Sapphire’s supply and support approach meant balconies were ready and right, enabling installers to complete balconies rapidly with installers safely inside the apartments, and without need to install soffits afterwards.