BHC was involved in the supply, fabrication and erection of the steel framework of the 100,000 m2 Drake Circus Leisure Scheme in Plymouth. The development includes a 12-screen Cineworld Cinema, 13 restaurant units including a Sky Bar overlooking the city.
The scheme comprises of one large steel frame measuring 130m long x 50m wide. The frame has typically been braced using flat vertical bracings which provide the lateral stability along with the composite floor decks and roof bracing. There were a limited number of locations for bracing on the ground floor of the development, resulting in the client agreeing to a bay of ‘Featured Bracing’ located within the pedestrian walkway located on the podium level. BHC worked closely with Corstorphine & Wright to produce bespoke connection details for the braced bay. This element of the structure will remain exposed in the final scheme.
The steelwork programme began by erecting the tallest section of the scheme which was the cinema block and the lower levels beneath it. Once the steelwork reached its full height of 35m, the cladding contractor could begin their work.
Due to the mixed-use nature of the scheme, there is no regular grid pattern for the steelwork to follow. One of the main design challenges was to minimise transfer structures without compromising the quality of the retail spaces. Most of the transfer structures are located on the podium level where there is suitable structural depth. Plate girders were used instead of standard UB Sections, decreasing the number of bespoke steel sections required therefor benefiting both cost and construction programme.
The cinema block houses the largest and heaviest single steel element measuring 25m x 4.5m and weighing 26 tonnes. The truss sits within the 5th level of the cinema block above the IMAX screen, forming the column-free space for the Sky Bar.
The steel frame of each cinema screen is an independent frame, isolated on acoustic bearings within the steelwork connections. This prevents noise transfer between the cinema screens.