One of the largest luxury airport hotels in Europe, the 608-bedroom, five-star Arora Sofitel Hotel is located adjacent to T5 at Heathrow. The extensive basement houses one of London’s largest conference facilities. Top-down construction techniques were used to control ground movements during construction of the 12m-deep basement, which is situated 10m from the Piccadilly Underground line. Distinctive structural features include five atria linking the hotel blocks and an impressive 40m pedestrian bridge, comprising two 20m spans, which connect the hotel to the T5 car park and airport terminal. The hotel accommodation blocks are constructed of pre-cast concrete wall and slab elements.

Project Value
£180 million
Year Completed
2007
Building Metrics
Total Area: 70,000m²
Levels: 4 + 3 basement levels
Sectors
Hotel, Leisure and Conference
Client
Arora Hotels

Primary Contractor
Laing O’Rourke
Architect
EPR Architects
Robert Bird Group Services
Structural Engineering
Civil Engineering

Key technical challenges

  • The primary tower structure consists of a composite slab and beam structure. Due to the long beam spans and thin slab, extensive analysis for footfall vibration was required to ensure the structure achieved code requirements and client expectations.
  • Working with the existing structure and developing design solutions that strengthened rather than demolished.
  • Extensive co-ordination with the mechanical engineer to develop a strategy that minimised beam penetrations and beam notches.
  • Differential shortening analysis with consideration of mega truss, steel structure, concrete structure and existing structural elements

Environmental performance

  • 5 Star Greenstar
  • 5 Star NABERs Energy and 4 Star NABERs Water ratings.

Key innovations

An integrated substructure and superstructure construction methodology accelerated the construction programme by ‘jump starting’ the hotel superstructure while top-down substructure construction progressed below.

Other innovations include the extensive use of roll-mat reinforcement for the basement raft, thereby dramatically reducing the number of operatives working within the basement and reducing the construction period within this zone.

RBG was engaged by LOR as structural and civil engineering designers and for input into construction methodology.

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