Delivering Drainage Europe’s Tallest Building

Installing the drainage pipework in London’s Shard skyscraper provided a number of supply and logistical challenges for the team responsible.

The Shard became Europe’s tallest building when the main structure was completed in July.

The skyscraper, designed by Italian architect Reno Piano to replicate a shard of glass, stands at 1,016 feet high and has already become an icon of the London skyline.

It will provide 1.4 million square feet of space comprising offices, a hotel, apartments, restaurants and viewing galleries.

All that space needs drainage systems and associated services for its day-to-day operation.

DGR Mechanical Services was appointed by main contractor Mace MEP to supply and install the chilled water, condenser water, low temperature hot water heating, hot and cold water, gas, rainwater systems, public health services and, crucially, drainage throughout the core and shell of the Shard.

DGR selected Wolseley UK as its supply partner for the public health services, with all of the cast iron and domestic copper pipework and components provided by its Drain Center branch in Brimsdown. The remaining copper and stainless steel pipes were provided by the London City Pipe Center branch, which has recently relocated to a new site in Surrey Quays.

Andy Dolan, project director at DGR Mechanical Services, said: “We already had a good working relationship with Drain Center and we wanted to choose a supply partner based on service not just price.

“With a building of this size, stock availability was one of our key criteria and the main reason we chose Wolseley and Drain Center. We know that we can rely on their specialist expertise and stock when we need parts that are a little bit different.”

Working in the heart of London also presented some practical challenges for the project team. The Shard is in a particularly busy area of the capital in a site constrained by its proximity to London Bridge station, a hospital and a bustling bus station. “The site has provided a logistical challenge due to its extremely confined footprint,” Dolan explains.

“No materials could be stored on site due to space constraints and deliveries had to be planned and booked in at set times because there is only one road in and out. So we needed a supply partner who could be flexible about delivery times and storage.

“As well as tailoring deliveries to suit the required times, Wolseley was able to offer us a branch just around the corner where we could store materials if necessary.”

Dave Hodgson, southern sales manager for Drain Center, added: “The signifi cant logistical challenges of building the Shard have required innovation at every stage of the build process. We’re proud to have been involved in such an iconic and successful construction project.

“When DGR spoke to us about the project, we were keen to do everything we could to support them, tailoring our deliveries to meet the special needs of one of the largest pipework packages in the country.

“Materials deliveries had to be coordinated very carefully on a strict time frame without disrupting the commuters and hospital visitors. This even saw us making deliveries in the middle of the night and bank holidays.”

Dolan concluded: “We’re delighted that, working together with Wolseley UK, we have been able to deliver such a challenging, exciting and successful project.”

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Last Updated on April 24, 2021
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