Like an old-fashioned barn- raising given a modern twist, a new building went up Tuesday in London.Or, should we say, lifted into place — giant concrete walls hoisted by a crane and placed together like a giant Meccano set come to life.
“It is unlike anything else. It is a very simple concept,” said Len Overbeek, project manager for Tilt Wall Ontario of Woodstock, which assembled London’s first “tilt wall” building Tuesday. The building is expected to be up today.
“It’s pretty amazing how fast this has gone up,” said Perry Sempecos, owner of Copia Developments, the London developer building and leasing the space as a medical centre.
The technique is simple. Concrete is poured into forms, on the ground and given about a week to dry. The form on the ground acts like a mould and has built-in window and door spaces. Each wall weighs about 41 tonnes and, when ready, is lifted by a crane into place, with braces to hold up the wall. Those supports remain until a roof is attached and the walls are fastened together with welded steel beams.
Sempecos met Overbeek about four year ago and was fascinated by the concept of tilt wall buildings and wanted to give it a try.
“The first thing you want to know is, is it cheaper and is it faster,” Sempecos said of new building techniques. “It has gone pretty smoothly.” It’s certainly faster — he said he believes he’ll have tenants in the building by July. It’s also about 15% cheaper than traditional building methods because the faster build means less time for trades to be on site.
Overbeek also likes the safety aspect, with the work being done on the ground. “It is very safe. No one is up high,” he said. It’s also more energy-efficient because concrete holds heat, reducing heating costs as much as 30%, Overbeek said. “When you put a stone in fire, it holds the heat. It’s the same principle,” he said of the all-concrete structure. Insulation is built into the poured concrete.
The 2,787-sq.-m. building will be a medical centre on Fanshawe Park Rd., just west of Wellington, home to a host of health-care services.
Tilt Wall, in business since 2002, has built more than 30 buildings across Ontario, including a three-storey building for Humber College.
By Norman DeBono (Sunmedia, April 14, 2015)