Project Description

Unique portalised steel frame: Loddon School

The project for a new hall building for Loddon Primary, Reading was a unique portalised steel frame structure, with large glazing panels.

Using virtual design and construction technology, we modelled the steel frame in Revit. Our preferred solution was a lightweight steel frame on the inner leaf, however, for a more robust solution desired by the client, we integrated a steel frame and masonry infill panels to ensure the client’s brief was met whilst maintaining structural stability.

There were several issues with the project including the complex stability system and the challenges of masonry construction with large glazing panels. Ground conditions were challenging with high-volume potential clays, overlaying clay over chalk, a high-water table and a number of mature oak trees near to the site. The foundation solution which was eventually decided to be CFA piles and reinforced ground beams which we designed and reinforced in-house.

Virtual design and construction models allowed the analytical data for the steel frame and the concrete foundations to be held in one place. The benefits of this meant the implications to any changes to the superstructure could easily be assessed and the foundations redesigned almost instantaneously.


Project Team

Client: Loddon Primary School

Architect: PDP Architecture LLP

Contractor: Francis Construction

Traditionally the steel frame would have been designed separately and the column reactions manually transferred to the foundation model. This leaves the opportunity for human error. SWJ’s approach directly links the super and substructure models thus removing the risk of error and dramatically increasing the design turn-around time.

There was a phased construction to build a new hall and remodel the old hall into three new classrooms. Temporary works designs and condition surveys were completed on behalf of the contractor to allow the safe installation of the internal alterations.

The unique nature of this project called upon SWJ’s extensive knowledge and passion for the use of virtual design and construction technology. Large educational projects often require creative thinking and if your project presents challenges such as Loddon Primary School call 01993 225085 or email