• Gammon innovates at iSquare

    16 January 2010

    Located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong’s famous tourist district on Nathan Road, the city’s newest and highly anticipated commercial and entertainment complex, the recently opened iSquare, is already being referred to as ‘the Jewel of the Golden Mile.’ 

    Situated on the site of the former Hyatt Regency hotel, the Tian Teck Group iSquare development heralds a new era of construction in Hong Kong. Whilst the incorporation of new technologies signals Tian Teck Group’s commitment to the city’s hi-tech future, the project has also presented a number of new challenges for contractor Gammon Construction. 

    “The construction of iSquare has been one of the most challenging projects I have worked on, not only because of its premier location in one of the most famous districts of Hong Kong, but also because of the many logistical challenges faced during the construction phase,” states Gammon Construction Project Manager, Lawrence Pun. 

    “The safety of both members of the public and our workers during the construction of iSquare has been our top priority from the outset; however, the location of the site has presented many challenges of its own, including the system of one-way roads around the site.” 

    Pun added, “With iSquare located in a very congested area, a left out structure was needed to facilitate delivery of material to upper floors, making the material delivery schedule very tight before the closing of the structure. In addition, road closure permits after midnight on Nathan Road had to be obtained in order to hoist bulk and heavy materials like the cooling tower and Building Maintenance Unit (BMU). This also required very carefully planned site logistics. 

    “This massive project has also involved the construction of two new MTR (Mass Transit Rail) entrances on the Nathan Road side of the site and we have applied tunnelling methods to construct these as opposed to open cut construction,” continues Pun. “We have also had to guarantee that utility services such as water and power to other businesses in the area function as usual and without disruption, resulting in tunnelling some 2.5 metres below street level.” 

    No fewer than 43 escalators within 17 floors have been installed at iSquare. Most are non-typical and six of them will serve more than 3 floors. This involves a huge effort in relation to site coordination for the delivery and temporary storage of the escalators under a tight work schedule. 

    “Two pairs of escalators cladded with architectural features are rested on cantilevered structures at both ends which made structural calculation very stringent,” continues Pun. “Placement of these escalators is considered high risk and detailed risk assessment had been carried out in advance to control the risk. Due to the nature of building and compartmentation requirements, a large number of fire shutters are therefore used to achieve required fire prevention requirements.” 

    The construction of iSquare has also seen the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) pioneered by Gammon as part of the integrated construction to improve quality coordination and project delivery, as well as work quality and securing milestone dates of the project. “BIM has been mainly utilized on the Tower Roof coordination during the construction of iSquare, states Pun. “BIM significantly enhanced the facilitation of early coordination of the roof construction in the design stage. 

    The roof will proceed with the installation of cooling towers with its pipe work connection, steel frame for roof signboards and the BMU system. In addition, the dismantling of the Tower Crane has to be taken into account. On this fast track project, BIM helped a great deal in putting these entire heavy-duty units together in the congested roof area. Clashes are also easily identified so that we can do any required revision work before it is too late.” 

    Incorporating new and innovative design processes, the traditional unitised curtain wall system, mullion, is designed by using aluminium extrusion. For iSquare, glass fin mullions were designed and used a “Curtain Wall (with glass fins) System” with the height of glass fins up to 6-metres in this project. 

    The glass fins curtain wall system installed at iSquare was brand new to Hong Kong. In other words, iSquare is the first project to adopt this innovative system. Traditionally, both the transom and the mullion used to hold the glass panel are both aluminium. The glass fin system here has altered the mullion to glass panel. This heat strengthened glass panel has its design loading capacity reaching 49Mpa. While in order to achieve a more safe system, the structural calculation was requested to take only 30Mpa as its loading capacity. 

    External drainage upgrading works have also been carried out at Lock Road and Peking Road. The original conforming route was found not to be feasible with the congested utilities already laid below ground. Therefore the project team had to re-route the conforming design with additional and non-standard manholes. 

    The traffic control around the project site is also very strict as Tsim Sha Tsui is particularly crowded. The working hours were limited with constraints as imposed by the Transport Department, the Hong Kong Police and the Highways Department and the external work for the site was planned to commence more than a year before the required government inspection. 

    Observing Gammon’s corporate philosophy, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was also a major consideration, not least because of the high number of residential buildings in the area around the project site. Gammon organised a caring gathering with a group of energetic elderly citizens in December 2008 and also a farm visit for Tsim Sha Tsui families under the Hong Kong Christian Service Family Networks caring service. This was also aimed at promoting Gammon’s concerns of the living environment of residents nearby. 

    “A noise barrier system was also erected six metres away from our site across Lock Road to screen the neighbourhood from noise sources,” says Pun. “The combination of each of these efforts by Gammon has been very positive and has allowed our site to operate smoothly and without complaints.” 

    Gammon Construction has been associated with numerous major projects that have added to Hong Kong’s internationally renowned skyline. We are proud to have been associated with iSquare, the city’s most exciting new retail, entertainment and lifestyle complex.

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