CD Designs Blog

    Manchester’s Newest Skyscraper

    The tower nearing completion

    The tower nearing completion

    Manchester’s latest skyscraper recently ‘topped out’, making it the fourth tallest building in the city. The 106 metre high tower, encompassing 37 storeys, is to be used for student accommodation, making it one of the tallest in the world for this purpose.

    Work began on the £28.5 million project in 2010, and is ready for the new university year. The work is being carried out by national contractor Shepherd Construction and developer Student Castle, and the building was designed by Manchester architects Hodder and Partners. The finished building will have 7000 square feet of floor space, and will provide self-contained hi-tech contemporary studios, apartments and cluster flats of up to 6 bedrooms for 520 students.

    Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, marked the completion of the concrete frame of the building with a ‘topping out’ ceremony in April. Clive Williamson, construction director for Shepherd Construction, said at the ceremony: “We’re delighted to join with Student Castle in celebrating this important milestone as the building will meet the aspirations for 21st century student living and will also provide a new landmark for Manchester’s city centre.”

    Concrete Canvas

    Whilst at university, engineers Will Crawford and Peter Bewin invented Concrete Canvas. It basically consists of a cement impregnated matting, with a waterproof backing on one side, so that when water is added to the material it begins to harden into concrete. This material could be used in a wide variety of different ways, but it is thought that the best use is for temporary shelters, especially in war torn areas or places where a natural disaster has occurred.

    Taking the idea one step further, the engineers went on to create Concrete Canvas Shelters. Essentially it is like a large tent. The tent is delivered in a large box, and comes with the canvas bonded to the outside layer. It is inflated to give it its proper shape, then secured to the ground using steel pegs. When water is added the canvas begins to set in around 1 hour, and is fully ready in around 24. The structure can now act almost like a normal building, and services like electricity and running water can be installed.

    You can see a video of the process, with the engineers who invented the material, here.

    The Cement Museum

    Exhibit at the museum

    Exhibit room at the museum

    Following on from our series on Spain, the city of San Sebastian in northern Spain is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. The picturesque coastline and hilly surroundings mean that the city is always full of holidaymakers, but many leave without seeing the main attraction, the cement museum!

    The Museum Cemento Rezola is Spain’s first and only museum dedicated to cement. It was opened in the year 2000 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Cementos Rezola company, one of Spain’s largest cement and concrete companies.  The museum aims to “Discover the important role cement has played in our civilisation”, and answer questions like “What actually goes on in a cement factory?”, “How is concrete utilised?” and “ Where do the raw materials come from?”

    Exhibitions at the museum include “the history of cement”, an audio-visual presentation which provides an overview from the discovery of cement in 1756, to the advent of Portland cement, to the use of reinforced concrete. Also “cement and the environment” underlines the contribution of cement factories in helping the environment, by using waste generated by other industries.

    The museum is free to enter, and a guided tour can be arranged for groups of 6 or more by booking ahead. Details can be found on their website.

    Environmentally Friendly Parking

    Any area that is frequently used to park vehicles will probably require surface reinforcement. Without it the ground will quickly become boggy, rutted and unsightly, with little chance of sustaining healthy grass growth.  The usual materials used to reinforce the ground – concrete, tarmac and block paving, are usually impermeable or semi-permeable, which can create problems when it comes to Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS).

    The grass Ecoblock looks almost natural

    The grass Ecoblock looks almost natural

    One solution to this problem is to Ecoblock. The Ecoblock porous paving systems provide effective grass protection and gravel retention and have been designed for long term use in a wide range of load bearing applications. It is available for use with both grass and gravel, and offer many advantages over traditional surfaces. They are manufactured from fully UV stabilised, 100% recycled, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which is chemically inert and can be located in the ground without long term damage to the surrounding soils. Ecoblock systems are also fade resistant, providing longer-lasting, aesthetically pleasing solutions.

    The grass version is lawnmower friendly, and both the grass and gravel types are easy to install and require low maintenance. You can find out more about them at Buildbase Civils & Lintels.

    Concrete Surfaces

    A Kitchen With Concrete Surfaces

    A Kitchen With Concrete Surfaces

    Traditionally granite or wood has been used for surfaces around the home or workplace, however concrete is becoming more widely used and is a practical and artistic alternative.

    Concrete is an excellent choice for a surface, as it can be custom made to suit a wide variety of uses. It can be molded into a large number of different shapes, can be stained with a wide variety of colours. and can be made to resemble lots of other building materials like the aforementioned wood or granite. It can be polished, patterned or sealed to give any number of desired finishes. The concrete can be pre-cast off site or cast in place, giving lots of flexibility to the building process.

    A finished concrete counter is durable, functional and beautiful, and commands a similar price to granite, meaning adding a concrete counter, tabletop, bar top or whatever else you can think of, will make your home or workplace look classy and affluent. It is ideal for kitchen surfaces due to its high heat resistance and toughness, and can be great for outdoor surfaces as long as it is designed with this purpose in mind.

    Complete Driveway Designs Ltd

    The Yard, Stubbins Lane, Ramsbottom, BL0 0PT
    T: 01706 827180

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