helmsdale studios

Edwyn Collins & Grace Maxwell

AED provided full a structural engineering service for Helmsdale Studios from concept design, through site investigation, warrant, to construction. The project contains a number of innovative and green technologies.

The hillside is sculpted into a series of sloping terraces, allowing DDA-compliant access ramps to descend to the buildings. The retaining walls required on the slope were created using bales of recycled tyres; a low cost solution with great environmental credentials.

Meanwhile the studio (on the left) and the accommodation block (on the right) are founded on economic deep pad foundations formed using concrete manhole rings to reduce the overall volume of concrete required. Steel columns support the front edge of the building to give an impressive appearance and wonderful views while lateral forces are resisted where the building meets the ground at the rear. The building’s superstructures utilise innovative volumetric offsite construction in a similar manner to our award-nominated 217 Rossal project.

The music studio block features a large curtain wall facade, requiring a stiff supporting structure, which was formed from moment-resisting timber frames. Achieving the required properties was fairly straightforward with the technologies employed. The accommodation block has cantilevered balconies with canopies over, which are reinforced with steel plates integrated deep into the timber moment frames which stabilise the structure behind. This addresses issues relating to cyclical wind loading, overall loading and deflection in these elements.

Alterations were also carried out to convert the original cottage behind into an equipment store and office.