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Bouygues installs UK-first ‘oculus’ staircase

3 September 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Bouygues UK has installed an “oculus” staircase – the first of its kind – at Cardiff University’s Innovation Campus.

The contractor, which is building Innovation Campus, has worked with Taunton Fabrications to design and install the staircase, which travels through a slanting void. Its name is taken from the oculus design, which Bouygues said “depicts an eye that allows light to flood into a space”.

Designed by architects Hawkins\Brown, the oculus staircase is set to be the showpiece of the Innovation Central Building, which aims to be the world’s first social science research park.

The aim of the staircase is to drive collaboration between the varying departments. It starts at the ground floor as a social stair and forms breakout zones to each level.

The first part of the staircase being installed by Bouygues UK

Justin Moore, operations director for Bouygues UK in Wales, and project lead on Cardiff Innovation Campus, said: “We are over the moon to be bring the UK’s first oculus staircase to Cardiff. What’s so interesting about this building is that its layout is designed by activity rather than department – a venue like this requires very different environments, from quiet spaces for the secure data facility to a buzzing ground floor.

“The oculus is central to this as there are more private, secure spaces further away from the staircase and then open plan / breakout zones hugging it. It’s a fantastic, eye-grabbing design and we can’t wait to see the finished staircase in all of its glory.”

He added: “‘The principle of the oculus staircase makes it difficult to install as the stairs are not installed directly above each other, as for a standard staircase, but offset at each floor level. Several methods of installation have been reviewed over months to come up with the best way to safely and practically install the stairs.

“Initially, each stair was going to be installed after all the concrete floors were constructed by using spider cranes, but this meant that much of the floor area around the stair would be covered in propping delaying the internal finishing.

“Bouygues UK came up with a solution to install each stair after each floor slab was constructed and then construct the next floor above the stair with a cleaver configuration of temporary works, designed by the stair contractor, Taunton Fabrications and the RC frame contractor, 4D Structures. This is repeated on every floor.

"It is a complex and exciting construction project.”

How the oculus staircase will eventually look (Image: Hawkins\Brown)

He added: “‘The principle of the oculus staircase makes it difficult to install as the stairs are not installed directly above each other, as for a standard staircase, but offset at each floor level. Several methods of installation have been reviewed over months to come up with the best way to safely and practically install the stairs.

“Initially, each stair was going to be installed after all the concrete floors were constructed by using spider cranes, but this meant that much of the floor area around the stair would be covered in propping delaying the internal finishing.

“Bouygues UK came up with a solution to install each stair after each floor slab was constructed and then construct the next floor above the stair with a cleaver configuration of temporary works, designed by the stair contractor, Taunton Fabrications and the RC frame contractor, 4D Structures. This is repeated on every floor.

"It is a complex and exciting construction project.”

Comments

Beautiful design

Sheila, 3 September 2019

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