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Battle of Britain Visitor Centre delivered successfully

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VolkerFitzpatrick recently completed a new visitor centre for London Borough of Hillingdon, to house an extensive exhibition on the Battle of Britain Bunker.

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The new 2,000m2 facility is set across two levels and is located next to the original bunker site in Uxbridge. With a clean, modern look and sleek, juxtaposed lines, the building’s aesthetics have been designed to reflect the motion and dynamics of flight. The centre’s dark façade against the treeline and sky also creates a ‘stealth-like’ appearance, attracting attention during the day but subtlety blending with the landscape in the evening.

One year to complete

The two-stage design and build project was completed in just 52 weeks. The structure is comprised of a steel frame with metal deck upper floors, built on top of a reinforced concrete ground slab and piled foundations. A combination of cladding and curtain walling was used on the building’s exterior, whilst the interior received a full fit out, including mechanical and electrical systems. The team also installed audio-visual equipment, which can be remotely operated via the user’s smart phone.

The new building houses a 519m2 exhibition space with full-scale model aircraft, model-making and workshop rooms for school visits, a library, 95 seat auditorium, meeting and conference facilities. There is also a café, reception area, car parking and landscaped areas.

On-time design coordination

The project team faced the significant challenge of coordinating the design of the centre’s steel frame with that of its cladding and curtain walling. This needed to be delivered within an accelerated timeframe, in order to achieve programme deadlines.

Collaborating with the client and a specialist envelope subcontractor, VolkerFitzpatrick’s design team arranged a series of workshops to ensure the works were completed as efficiently as possible and the project remained on-schedule.

Achieving buildability

Another challenge during the project was its location. The building’s end elevation was positioned at the top of a hill, next to land that was owned by a third party. This made it impossible to construct the access scaffolding and mobile elevated working platforms (MEWPs), necessary to install the vertical cladding and curtain walling.
Fortunately, this was identified early in the project, giving the team the opportunity to negotiate access with the adjoining landowner. By importing engineered fill, the ground levels were adapted, allowing the team to use MEWPs and avoid any programme delays.

Anthony Oloyede, building control manager for London Borough of Hillingdon, said: "The construction team, consultants and Hillingdon Council Building Control met regularly throughout the build to ensure all aspects of required compliance were met and the visitor centre progressed smoothly to very tight timescales. Close monitoring at key stages ensured any issues and potential problems were managed smoothly with little impact on delivery. Our teamwork helped to deliver a striking building for visitors to admire and enjoy when it opens on 30 March."

Stuart Deverill, managing director of VolkerFitzpatrick's building division said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to be entrusted with the delivery of this architecturally striking building, which commemorates such a major event in the history of our nation. It truly highlights VolkerFitzpatrick’s expertise in fast-track, high quality construction and fit out.”

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