We are thrilled to launch our brand refresh, reflecting a new vision for Techrete which builds upon the company’s success over the last 38 years in business. We have set in motion, our recently updated company strategy which will provide a stable platform for the company at the top of our sector, into the future.
Pivoting on our company values and strategic drivers, this strategy will ensure we reach our net zero by 2030 and improve our performance across all functional and operational areas, whilst maintaining a people-focussed business, with an engaged and informed workforce.
Techrete CEO, Alastair Smyth said “I am very excited about the future of Techrete and our new brand is heralding a renewed focus on our ambitions. With a clear and well defined strategy centred around sustainability, a strong team and deployment of our expertise, we can face the future with confidence. We will further underpin our new direction with a clear set of values which will be our benchmark for how we approach today, and in the future”
Techrete are thrilled to once again demonstrate their commitment to Health & Safety to Win Their 13th Consecutive Gold Award and 3rd President’s Award.
The RoSPA Health and Safety Awards is the largest occupational health and safety awards programme in the UK. Now into its 67th year, the Awards have almost 2,000 entries every year, covering nearly 50 countries and a reach of over seven million employees. The programme recognises organisations’ commitment to continuous improvement in the prevention of accidents and ill health at work, looking at entrants’ overarching health and safety management systems, including practices such as leadership and workforce involvement.
While most awards are non-competitive – recognising individual organisations’ achievements – competitive awards are presented in 20 industry sectors and for specialist areas of health and safety management.
Julia Small, RoSPA’s Achievements Director, said:
“Accidents at work and work-related ill health don’t just have huge financial implications or cause major disruption – they significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. That’s why good safety performance deserves to be recognised and rewarded.
“We are thrilled that Techrete Ireland Ltd and Techrete UK Ltd has won this RoSPA Award and would like to congratulate them on showing an unwavering commitment to keeping their employees, clients and customers safe from accidental harm and injury.”
Read more about our commitment to Health & Safety here.
ESB HQ Scoops ‘Overall Winner of the Night’, While Osiers Road Wins ‘Best International Project’ for Techrete
Techrete CEO Alastair Smyth said:
“We were pleased to be nominated and attend the Irish Concrete Society Awards which took place on Saturday evening and I’m delighted to announce that we have won two awards for ESBHQ in Dublin and Osiers Road in Wandsworth, London.
This is a fantastic achievement and testament to the skill and hard work of the teams involved in both projects, from Pre-Construction, right through to Site Works. Recognition in this way once again demonstrates the quality of our people and our products which put Techrete at the very forefront of the precast cladding market.
I’d like to extend my congratulations to all for the dedication and effort that has resulted in receipt of these awards.”
Osiers Road: Keith Moran, Group Operations Director, Hollybrook Homes said:
‘As a company, we are always looking to increase the extent of off-site construction, but in the past have felt limited by design constraints on the solutions. Working with Techrete was a breath of fresh air. Techrete were able to bring high quality and innovative solutions in response to our demand for design quality and robust form of construction.
The early input and collaboration of Techrete with our design team and other supply chain members, contributed to a scheme which we are extremely proud of and a benchmark for projects going forward.The experience of working with Techrete means that we now actively look at how precast facades can be used in our buildings going forward.’
ESB HQ Summary:
‘The wide variety of panels, exceptionally tight courtyards and elevations, speed of erection, consistency of finish on the reconstructed stone and the demand for superior quality on this prestigious project, all contributed to the excellence of our work on Project Fitzwilliam.
Multiple challenges relating to the tight courtyards in terms of the design engineering and erection logistics were overcome with our flexible attitude and creative, lateral thinking’.
Both projects feature a combination of reconstructed stone and brick-facing precast concrete panels and their success are indicative of the popularity of the brick-facing aesthetic. Download our brick-facing brochure here.
Techrete have joined the EU-Funded ‘CIRRCON’ Project with the ‘Life’ Programme – Aiming to Transform Waste Products for Use as a Low Carbon Binder for Concrete.
Techrete are delighted to be involved with the CIRRCON Project in association with the LIFE programme. The research project has received funding from the European Union and the main objective is the production of circular (reinforced) concrete elements. This could potentially be achieved by transforming waste streams into a binder for concrete and avoiding primary material use, thus also reducing waste.
Techrete’s R&D Manager, Atteyeh S. Natanzi has emphasized the importance of this project both for the industry and Techrete and commented:
“We are enthusiastic about this innovative project as it has the potential to transform the way concrete is produced and used in the construction industry. The use of waste streams as a binding material, not only reduces waste but also decreases reliance on non-renewable resources, leading to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible construction industry. Furthermore, the production of circular concrete elements will tackle the critical issue of waste management, reducing its negative impact on the environment. The CIRRCON Project is a forward-thinking initiative with great potential for the construction industry’s future.”
Techrete Commended in the House of Commons During Sustainability in Construction Debate
Following a visit to Techrete’s Brigg facility in August with Philip Cox, Director of MPA Precast, local MP Holly Mumby-Croft had this to say about us on Friday:
‘I have a fantastic firm in my constituency, Techrete, which I am very proud of. It has contributed to a number of buildings across the country and the world. There have been 600 projects in the past 37 years, and I will draw your attention to a small number that you may have seen, Mr Deputy Speaker, because they are all quite close to where we are.
The Paul Marshall Institute Wins Architects Journal Award 2022
The Paul Marshall Institute for London School of Economics and Political Science has won the Higher Education (over £20m) category in the Architects Journal Awards. Yet another fantastic accolade for designers Grafton Architects and all involved.
Techrete manufactured the precast concrete facade for the project offsite and our brochure can be downloaded here.
Author: Prof. Roger West, School of Engineering, Trinity College. September, 2022
Novel, low carbon precast sandwich panels for retrofitting, or re-cladding building facades were investigated by a consortium of European partners including UCD, TCD and industrial partners, Techrete. This blog, the second of two will deal with the composite structural action of such panels, whether load-bearing thick panels (such as in figure A below, with a thick inner wythe connected by shear collectors, shown in blue), or thin self-supporting panels (with two thin wythes), which only have to withstand lateral loads, particularly wind loads.
The panels, which could be up to 4m in length, are expected to have flexural resistance by developing composite action between the inner and outer wythes, separated by a thick layer of rigid insulation (shown in yellow in figure A), strengthened by a small number of shear connectors suitably embedded into each wythe. These connectors can be stiff and strong such as steel plates, or concrete webs, reinforced with steel bars (figure B), although these are thermally conductive and compromise the thermal efficiency through bridging. This arrangement of connector develops good composite action allowing shear transfer between the wythes under flexure. Alternatively, non-conductive, but less structurally efficient fibre reinforced polymer continuous grids or pins (figure C) have become more popular when high thermal efficiency is required.
Of particular interest here is the ability of these shear connectors to transfer load between the exposed outer wythe and the inner wythe such that efficient composite action in flexure is obtained. When a simply supported thin panel is laid flat and tested in flexure using displacement control, the response, as determined by the load-central deflection plot, as illustrated in figure ‘D’ below, then if steel plates are used for shear connection, almost perfect shear transfer between wythes would result (shown by the steep dashed black line). If no shear connectors exist at all, then the insulation would be responsible for transferring the load between the wythes, in compression, and the wythes would act virtually independently of each other, as shown by the red line. As may be observed, the panel would be much more flexible and would sustain much lesser loads.
On the other hand, if the non-conductive connectors are used, the behaviour is much more complex. Up to the point of the first concrete crack, the pinned connector enhances the load share between the top and bottom wythes by going into compression due to its superior axial stiffness – as seen by the blue curve in figure d. In contrast, the thin grid connector has very low axial resistance and so it effectively buckles under the compressive load between wythes and, as can be seen in the green curve in figure d, has a lower flexural stiffness overall than the pin connectors panel.
But this propensity to resist flexural loads for the non-conductive connector panels is reversed when the upper wythe concrete cracks at between, 1mm and 2mm deflection in the example shown above. Now, the lateral shear in composite action dominates and the discrete pin panels lose load capacity and have reduced flexural toughness due to the two wythes sliding laterally relative to each other due to the small lateral movement resistance offered by the vertical pins embedded in the concrete wythes, again as observed in the blue line’s response in figure d. In sharp contrast, the grid connected panels not only sustain the load, but allow an increased load capacity with increasing displacement as a trussed action develops between the wythes, the compression being resisted by the rigid insulation and the tension by alternate strands of the diagonal grid in tension, responding as shown in green in figure d.
The conclusions are that the cracking resistance of the non-conductive shear connected panels is inferior to the conductive connector panels, and the grid type connectors have better post-cracking load capacity and toughness compared to the pin type connectors, despite having similar first crack load capacities.
It should also be noted that in the case of non-load bearing panels which have equally thin wythes, the load transfer through the insulation with pin connectors suggests that the inner wythe takes a larger proportion of the load because the outer wythe is effectively floating on the insulation, while the inner wythe is more rigidly supported by the panel connector fixed to the building behind. The possibly consequence is that the inner wythe might crack while the damage remains unseen from the outside.
These considerations require the structural engineer to allow for a lesser structural performance while attaining the improved thermal performance which non-conductive shear connectors facilitate, especially if the lower carbon thin panels are used.
The Marshall Building, London School of Economics is Shortlisted in Building Magazine Awards 2022
The Marshall Building for London School of Economics has been shortlisted in the prestigious ‘Project of the Year’ category in the Building Magazine Awards 2022. Entered by main contractor Mace, the Marshall Building has already won ‘International Project of the Year’ for Techrete and is up against nine other projects in the category.
Techrete are proud to have played an integral role in the completion of this Grafton Architects’ designed academic centre, having constructed the architectural precast concrete facade offsite, at their facility in Dublin. Read more about this project here.
Author: Dr. Oliver Kinnane, UCD School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy. June, 2022
Precast sandwich panel cladding has merits as a sustainable and modern method of construction. They encompass a full wall build-up benefitting from the efficiencies of offsite construction, and embedded between two wythes of concrete; a structurally salient, often load-bearing, inner concrete wythe and an external weather-proofing thinner outer wythe. This article outlines a low embodied carbon sandwich panel, that can offer high thermal performance for future efficient building operation.
The IMPRESS H2020 project, now complete, included collaborators UCD Architecture, Trinity Engineering and Techrete amongst a wide range of European partners. The project focused on designing, testing and demonstrating innovations in lightweight sandwich panel cladding for new build applications and for renovation applications. Output from the project included a suite of academic papers focused on the range of innovations including an analysis of the structural composite nature of the panels, thermal testing of panels, the high performance concrete mix, the practical development of panels, shear behaviour of thicker dimensioned panels, and an extensive review of precast sandwich panel innovation, design and testing. The drive throughout this project was to create a panel that could offer a low embodied carbon solution for the thermal performance enhancement of existing buildings. Precast concrete clad, concrete frame buildings abound across Europe, accounting for a considerable proportion of the housing stock, and lots of public and institutional buildings built in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. These buildings embody considerable carbon. The bones of these buildings are generally healthy but the skin has often degraded.
A project rule was set – the sandwich panels were to be no heavier than the single skin panels they replaced, but were to offer a time efficient retrofit solution, and achieve the highest standards of thermal performance. The designed thin precast concrete sandwich panels included novel high performance, fibre reinforced concretes in wythes of 20mm thickness. Embedded between these wythes, that spanned 3m, was vacuum insulation that ensured a high thermal performance while maintaining a thin panel section. The structural innovations of this research are the focus of part two of this blog, by Prof. Roger West of Trinity College, School of Civil and Structural Engineering. This article instead focuses on the innovations in low embodied carbon concrete and the high thermal performance of the panels.
High Performance Fibre Reinforced Concrete (HPFRC)
Novel low carbon High Performance Fibre Reinforced Concrete (HPFRC) mixes were developed. The environmentally improved HPFRC include coarse aggregates (to reduce cement paste volume), non-corrosive fibres (to eliminate the risk of corrosion) and a high dosage of supplementary cementitious materials (to again minimise the cement content). Compressive strengths of 100 MPa and pre-cracking flexural strengths above 8 MPa were achieved. Importantly it was also found that the inclusion of resin coasted glass and basalt fibres (2.3% by volume) resulted in deflection hardening behaviour under flexural loading conditions. An environmental investigation found that the embodied carbon of a precast facade can be reduced by 50% when using the outlined mix enhancements over standard concrete.
To evaluate the thermal performance of the panels, a sample thin design was experimentally tested using a hot plate apparatus. Finite Element modelling was then used to further investigate the common features of thin panel designs and potential areas of heat loss. The analysed thin sample sandwich panel (150 mm thick) achieves an average U-value of 0.324 W m−2 K−1; this is 16% lower than that of a typical 315 mm thick sandwich panel with 100 mm of polystyrene foam insulation. Thermal bridging was identified as a source of heat loss in the thin wall design, accounting for up to 71% of the total thermal transmittance of the tested thin sandwich panel. In standard walls this is usually less than 20%. Further investigations and design reiterations showed that some of the features of the tested design could be improved to significantly reduce the effect of the thermal bridging and reduce the U-value by 59% to 0.13 W m−2 K−1 in an optimised panel design.
These innovations resulted in significant enhancement of sandwich panels and design guidelines and evidence for next generation low embodied carbon, high performance sandwich panels – panels that allow full wall installation in a single, time efficient process.
For more detailed information on the project and accompanying publications click here.
Watch this space for part two by Professor Roger West, coming soon.
Opinion Piece by Guest Author, Paul Iddon ARB RIBA
Creating a building of distinction requires extraordinary design and materials.
Not all buildings are created equal. When it comes to architecture, there are extraordinary briefs and settings that demand an extraordinary response. The interesting thing is that anyone can sense when a building is special, when it has been loved, agonised over, lavished with care and attention to detail. We can feel it in our bones, and we know it matters. The idea of ‘civic pride’ may seem a bit 1950’s, but ask any resident of Barcelona, Sydney or New York and they will tell you in effusive terms of love for their city and what makes it special. As you read this, I can confidently predict you already have a particular building in each case in your head – am I right?
This is the remarkable power of architecture at the highest watermark, it is imprinted on our collective unconscious because it represents the pinnacle of human achievement. Architecture is called the mother of the arts for good reason.
If you have been lucky enough to witness first-hand the genius of Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the innovative triumph of Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House, or William van Alen’s art deco landmark Chrysler Building on Lexington Avenue, you will have been enriched for ever. There are many more all over the world, but you get the point. There is no substitute for quality, and it shows.
I would add to the list of world-class architecture, some examples closer to home. The magnificent response to the iconic Manchester Town Extension’s stone tracery was lovingly referenced by architect Simpson Haugh at No.2 St. Peter’s Square shown above. It is a building fit for probably the most important public space in the city.
Another stunning example is the Victoria and Albert Museum in Dundee by Kengo Kuma and Associates. A radical addition to the city’s waterfront, with its unmistakable references to the ruggedly beautiful Scottish landscape.
What do they all have in common?
Remarkable expression through their design and materials. Impact created through a powerful combination of quality, simplicity and clarity of form. To architects and those acquainted with the history of Imperial Rome, the ‘Vitruvian Triad’ is still the measure of architecture and has been for over 2000 years. Developed by Emperor Augustus’ chief architect and military engineer, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio 80-15 BCE and described with beautiful simplicity in three Latin words: Firmitatis, Utilitatis, Venustatis.
These three qualities Vitruvius believed every structure should possess, most commonly translated as Commodity (appropriate design of spatial accommodation and setting on the site, i.e., good planning), Firmness (Stability and build quality i.e., excellence in detail and construction), and Delight (Beauty and attractiveness in appearance). These cases are such an incredible success because they all possess these three simply stated qualities. But achieving them is extraordinarily difficult and is as clear as day when manifested in the world.
When it comes to facades of distinction, it is the second, Firmness, that holds the key to success even with the most brilliant concept. The material from which it is built defines its longevity and resilience to the ravages of climate and time. The examples in Manchester and Dundee use precast concrete manufactured to exacting specification, in order to stand solid and proud in the extremely variable climate of the British Isles, coupled with the environmental challenges of pollutants in North Cheshire basin or exposure and salinity of the Tay estuary.
“To build sustainably, we should build for centuries”
This material is noble, robust and durable. Perfectly in tune with the requirements of the highest quality demanded by the public realm. It is axiomatic amongst architects that sustainable design, especially in buildings of such note, should be based not just on a sensitivity to embodied carbon, but also their resilience and longevity. We should, of course, leave no stone unturned in striving for low carbon materials and a healthy circular economy, but as a first principle, to build sustainably, we should aim to build for centuries. The architecture that means the most to our civilisation, has the quality that last many lifetimes. Is part of the fabric of our shared history.
That means paying attention to the creation of buildings of distinction, with facades of distinction.
Paul Iddon ARB RIBA,
Owner / Director Agency PSI Ltd Vice President – Manchester Society of Architects RIBA NW Council Member
Techrete’s Precast Concrete Facade Shortlisted in the Specialist Contract Category of the ICE Awards, Dublin
Techrete were delighted to receive the news that Grangegorman Central Quad has been shortlisted in the Irish Construction Excellence Awards. The project is up for multiple awards for main contractor John Sisk / FCC Joint Venture in what is sure to be an exciting evening at the Dublin Convention Centre on May 14th 2022.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on 8 March in order to recognise the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the world and to highlight issues which still need addressing. IWD advocates for an inclusive, gender equal world whereby difference is celebrated and the theme for 2022 is #BreakTheBias.
Techrete celebrated the women of Techrete by holding a focus group to recognize their valued contribution to the business, as well as exploring how to support them further and encourage more women to enter the construction industry.
Managing Director Mark O’Dea said ‘We are committed to creating an environment in which each employee can feel safe to be themselves, to fulfil their potential and maximise their contribution, regardless of their gender, age, religion, ethnic or national origin. Today, we join our female colleagues in celebrating the occasion and reflect on the significance of the message that it communicates‘
Duncan House Wins ‘Highly Commended’ at the Concrete Society Awards
Techrete were thrilled with the news that Duncan House won ‘Highly Commended’ at this years Concrete Society Awards. The judges were impressed with Techrete’s quality and consistency of finish over almost 1,500 precast concrete panels which were manufactured off-site for Watkin Jones, saving considerable programme time and cost.
Duncan House is one of 6 recent and current Techrete projects at Stratford.
i9 Wolverhampton Wins a Prestigious Brick Award 2021 in the Commercial Category
Techrete are proud to have designed, manufactured and installed the precast, brick-facing facade for this award winning project. 239 panels veneered with red IBstock bricks were manufactured off-site at Techrete’s facility in North Lincolnshire for Graham Construction.
Considered the most prestigious brick awards in the UK, the judges award the very best in craftsmanship and brick detailing.
Glenn Howells who designed the project said ‘We’re delighted and proud that i9 has gained this recognition from the Brick Awards. i9’s crafted red brick facade defines its identity and we wanted the strong vertical expression of brickwork piers to create a striking yet complementary addition to the family of buildings at this important intersection in the city.’
As part of our Wellness calendar, our team in Brigg organised a bake sale to raise funds for ‘Wear it Pink’ day in late October, while the famous pink ribbons were sold by our Balbriggan team. A total of €300 was raised, with Techrete matching that figure for a sizeable donation to this worthy cause.
With one in nine women developing breast cancer during the course of their lifetime, it is vital that we continue to raise awareness and support women who are affected by the disease.
Kingston University Townhouse has been names the UK’s ‘Best New Building’ Winning Architecture’s Top Award – Riba Stirling’
Architect Lord Foster, chair of this year’s prize jury, said Town House “seamlessly brings together student and town communities, creating a progressive new model for higher education, well deserving of international acclaim and attention”.
He said it was a “highly original work of architecture” where “quiet reading, loud performance, research and learning can delightfully coexist”.
“That is no mean feat,” he added. “Education must be our future – and this must be the future of education.”
Grafton Architects said they were “delighted” that their “spatial open matrix” had been selected, noting how they had always “imagined a place where students would feel at home”.
Techrete are proud to have played our part in the construction of the Townhouse, supplying 473 reconstructed stone columns and beams for the projects’ facade.
Techrete Install Large Solar Array at Dublin Facility
A Solar PV solution was installed at the Techrete factory in Balbriggan in September as part of our Low Carbon Strategy. With the Alternative Energy Ireland array, the Kw/h output is guaranteed, and it is expected that 300,000 kwh will be generated in year one alone. This will save Techrete approximately 75,000 kg of carbon emissions over 12 months.
Just one of our sustainability measures being implemented to ensure we reach our goal of achieving Net Zero by 2030.
Techrete Sponsor Balbriggan Football Club Under 14’s Football Team
Techrete were proud to sponsor the under 14’s team with the local Balbriggan Football Club for the upcoming season. Pictured below is Eddie Donegan of Balbriggan FC and Techrete Managing Director, Mark O’Dea.
It is important to Techrete to support the local communities in all of our operative locations across the UK and Ireland and you can read more about our Corporate Social Responsibility here.
Techrete Launch Summer Programme for School-Leavers at Facility in North Lincolnshire
The programme is a great opportunity for school leavers in the local and surrounding areas who are interested in the construction and manufacturing industries. Participants will gain experience and training in multiple trades and disciplines through a structured, paid, 8-week programme from 26th July to the end of September.
Techrete Receives RoSPA Gold Presidents Award for Health & Safety Achievements for 10 Consecutive Years.
Techrete is celebrating after landing an internationally recognised award for demonstrating high health and safety standards. Achieving the RoSPA Gold medal 10 consecutive years has earned Techrete the President’s Award this year.
Organisations receiving a RoSPA Award are recognised as being world-leaders in health and safety practice. Every year, nearly 2,000 entrants vie to achieve the highest possible accolade in what is the UK’s longest-running H&S industry awards.
Micheal Sanderson Group Health and Safety Manager said: “To win the RoSPA Gold Medal for 10 consecutive years is an outstanding achievement for Techrete and it is testament to the strong leadership of our Health and Safety Managers and co-operation by all employees both at our manufacturing facilities and on-site. We are so proud to have achieved the President’s Award this year.”
Julia Small, RoSPA’s achievements director, said: “The RoSPA Awards scheme is the longest-running of its kind in the UK, but it receives entries from organisations across the globe, making it one of the most sought-after achievement awards for health and safety worldwide.
“RoSPA is very proud of the achievements of its entrants, and with this award we recognise the best of the best, those organisations that have gone the extra mile, raising the bar for the delivery of safety in the workplace. Employees, wherever they may be, should be able to go to work safe in the knowledge that they will return home unharmed and healthy at the end of every day. Our RoSPA Award winners are central to achieving this goal. By entering they are driving up standards and setting new safety benchmarks for organisations across the world. Currently, around 7million people are directly impacted by the RoSPA Awards, but the scheme’s global influence is even wider – with nearly 2000 organisations from 46 countries represented this year. I would also particularly want to thank our main sponsor NEBOSH, the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health – for their continued support for the 16th consecutive year.”