By the end of this year, construction of the flagship One Blackfriars development in central London will be complete. The development consists of a 52-story tower of a maximum height of 170 meters and two smaller buildings of six and four stories respectively. It includes residential flats, a hotel and retail units, along with a public space.

St. George, a leading property developer in the UK, commissioned Norco Holdings, a manufacturer of GFRP composite structures and molds, to manufacture three unique 14-meter-long canopies to be installed on the building.

The project called for Norco to build the canopies to look like polished metal features, while being lightweight and robust enough to withstand the harsh environmental conditions. The canopies were constructed from Scott Bader’s Crystic® resin VE679-03PA to create a glass fiber composite laminate with a closed cell structural foam core to provide adequate panel stiffness over the large hollow wing shape. A resin infusion process was adopted for the production of the composite panels, which provided a high quality and void free laminate. Norco carefully refined a staged infusion approach, specifically for the manufacture of the metal coated areas, in order to avoid ‘print through’ of the composite materials onto the external surface. Scott Bader’s grey Crystic® gelcoat GT600 RAL 2043 was then used as a back-up behind the VeroMetal spray on the canopies to ensure a consistent metal finish.

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The installation of the canopies presented a particular challenge to the team. Suitable lifting points were required to move the canopies into place on site, but were not in keeping with the smooth polished appearance of the structure, thus resulting in an innovative solution to remove them once the canopies were installed.

As well as manufacturing the canopies Norco was also involved in earlier stages of the project. This included the design and engineering of the direct tooling, in addition to undertaking all of the CAD design and modelling for the canopies, and the management of all of the FEA analysis to ensure the canopies were structurally sound.

“This project was extremely challenging and to see a successful completion with a product the client is thrilled with, is testament to the skill and expertise demonstrated by the whole team,” states Mark Northey, Managing Director of Norco Holdings. “This type of innovative composite structure really highlights the adaptability of composite materials and I am delighted we have also been able to showcase our capabilities and expertise in this field.”