Half-built Hackney Wick flats are being torn down

Posted by Derek Mason

13th September 2022

Picture caption: Example image of demolition at Canary Wharf (this is not The Factory) 

Picture credit: Rumman Amin on Unsplash

One-hundred and forty-eight brand new flats in Hackney Wick are in the process of being demolished after “a potential structural issue” was discovered in the concrete frame. The £48m part-built Taylor Wimpey development, known as The Factory, is being torn down and rebuilt. Thankfully, this kind of demolition is a rare occurrence.

Specialists, Erith, are now on site and demolition of the concrete structure has begun. Aside from the environmental costs of building the same structure twice, this will mean that profits take a hit too, so what could be the reason for the demolition?

Taylor Wimpey hasn’t released any specific details, and it’s not a project I’ve had any involvement with, so I can’t comment on the specific reasons for this demolition, but let’s look at a separate example.

One structural issue that can occur in a flat slab construction is punching shear. It happens when the total shear force exceeds the shear resistance of the slab, and the slab fails. The column “punches through” the slab. This can happen due to human error, for example where shear studs or shear reinforcement haven’t been used, or the studs have been put in the wrong way round or at the wrong level, or if insufficient shear reinforcement has been calculated and specified during the design.

This is just one of the structural elements of a project that could potentially cause a problem. There may be other reasons for the structural failure at The Factory development.

In reference to The Factory development, a Taylor Wimpey spokesperson announced: “Following the discovery of a potential structural issue, identified as part of a routine check during the early stages of construction at our development in Monier Road, Hackney Wick, we have taken the decision to demolish the existing concrete structures and rebuild.

“Health and safety is our top priority and this decision has been carefully and thoroughly considered after close consultation with independent structural engineers.”

The site is near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and West Ham United’s London Stadium. Interestingly, this is the stadium I referenced in my book, Will It Stand Up? – where I explored the seven principles of running a successful project, using the stadium as an example.

I led the team that did the third-party check of the structural design of the stadium before it was built for the London 2012 Olympic Games. These checks were carried out to reduce the chances of structural issues arising during construction.

In full, my seven principles of running a successful project are:

1.  Have a common goal

2.  Develop a good, detailed plan before you start

3.  Develop a good communication strategy

4.  Develop the ethos of good teamwork

5.  Decide on the legacy from the outset

6.  Develop robust checking procedures before you start

7.  Make sure your project is fit for purpose.

You can see that I emphasise that checking procedures are important before you start work on any project. They are also important during construction, and one positive in terms of the Hackney Wick flats is that the potential structural issue was picked up, which means that the correct structural checks were being made during the build.

I suspect the rebuild will see very thorough checks being made throughout the project. In the meantime, if you need assistance with the structural elements of an upcoming project, please do get in touch.

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