Woolgar Hunter is a Scottish engineering consultancy specialising in the fields of civil, structural & geo-environmental engineering and we are delighted to be associated with The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice new building project in Glasgow.
The hospice first approached us in the spring of 2011 and we have provided engineering design advice throughout the evolution of the project. From the outset we understood the significance of this commission and that it was no ordinary project. Rhona Baillie, the chief executive of the hospice, personally took the engineers who would work on the project around the existing hospice on the banks of the Clyde and allowed us the privilege of meeting staff, patients and visitors. It was a memorable experience to all who took part.
Our philosophy is always to work closely with the client and design team in a collaborative manner to deliver the most appropriate economic design solution. On this project, possibly more than any other we are involved in and reinforced with Rhona’s guided tour, the importance of the delicate balance of cost and design is paramount, in that, the partly self-funded hospice aspires to design excellence to provide each visitor to the building with the best facilities and experience possible. Throughout the design process our aim has been to provide a first class engineering design in an economic manner.
The project is an exciting one from an engineering perspective, especially as it sits in an excellent location within one of Glasgow’s famous green spaces. Our initial involvement was working with the architect to locate the building within the site; we considered a variety of influences in this process such as, access, visibility, ground conditions and site levels before agreeing on the final location as shown on the architect’s plans. As part of this process our civil engineers have built a three-dimensional ground model to allow us to adjust ground levels to minimise the amount of material to be taken off or indeed, brought onto site. In cost and sustainability terms, the perfect solution is a balanced cut-and-fill earthworks exercise, ie you reshape the ground contours using only the material on site and in this instance the team have pretty much achieved this.
As with vast areas of the south of Glasgow the new site of the hospice sits over old coal workings at depth. Our geotechnical engineers have designed a consolidation scheme for these old mine workings (essentially grouting them up) to allow the foundations of the new building to be safely built over them.
The architects have designed a fantastic building internally and externally and our structural engineers have worked with them to seamlessly insert a concrete skeleton within the building. The concrete frame is designed with flat soffits to the underside of the floor slabs to ensure we have no downstand beams - this allows for easy distribution of the building services throughout the ceiling void and for excellent flexibility for the internal spaces. If in the future, room layouts require to be adjusted as the building continues to meet the needs of community throughout its life the absence of downstand beams is a major advantage.
As part of the building setting, the architect has nestled it into the hillside to minimise the visual impact. The concrete frame has enabled this by turning up the foundations to create retaining walls to envelope the site and allow the hillside to be retained in an economic fashion.
Our team of talented engineers and technicians can’t wait to see the project come out of the ground.