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Retaining Wall System Case Studies

Woodhouse Hotel, Warwickshire - Stepoc Shuttering Block System

Client: T Visaman & Son

Architect: HB Architects

Structural Engineers: GHW Consulting Engineers

Purchased in 2007 by property developers, T Visaman & Sons Ltd, The Woodhouse Hotel had been a small hotel, set in a peaceful open country location, with the towns of Rugby, Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa nearby. At the time, the hotel was notable for its social functions and lunchtime carvery; however, the building was tired having been running for over 40 years and originally been converted from farm buildings, some of which dated back to 1450.

It was decided to demolish the building and build a completely new, larger 40 bedroom hotel on the site. HB Architects of Rugby, were engaged to design the new hotel and secure planning permission. The old building was demolished in May 2013 and construction of the new hotel started soon after. Anderton Concrete were contacted by Neil Carr at GHW, the structural engineers regarding three large retaining walls, we provided guidance and a quotation for 805m2 of 325 Stepoc.

The first visit to site was in April 2015, to meet Master builder Paul Carr, his son Steven and project manager Mark Taylor. This was when the size of the project became apparent as at that time the site consisted of nothing more than a sizeable hole in the ground and some concrete footings. At our first meeting Paul estimated that using Steopc for the back wall and the two return walls, it was going to cost him around half that of using any other method, and as the build progressed it became apparent why this was the case. The walls are going to be used to create a sub surface banqueting suite for up to 700 people with the far wall, a huge expanse of glass, looking out into open countryside.

Bradgate Homes are a division of T Visaman & son and much of Paul and Steven’s time is taken on housing projects. Between projects or when there are the inevitable site holdups, the use of stepoc allows the team to spend time at the Woodhouse Hotel site working on the three retaining walls, as the dry lay construction method and sub 20 kilo block weight mean that even if only two men are available, several courses of blocks can be laid in a working day. In August 2015, all three walls were six courses high and Paul was even more enthusiastic about Stepoc. They were getting ready for the first concrete pour, which, as recommended by Anderton Concrete, was done using a pump with a 75mm nozzle, during a subsequent Steven commented how easily that and the concrete pours had been as much as anything because the nozzle was the perfect size.

In October 2015 the steps walls had only grown by a couple of courses, but the steels were now erected and at this stage the size of the finished building became apparent. In January 2016 a further next site visit provided an absolute transformation. The main wall was over 6m high and the returns were also substantially higher than the previous visit. Several pours had taken place, brick cladding was starting to be added in some areas and probably most important, the crumbling sandy soil bank at the front of the building had been back filled with aggregate up to first floor level making the whole site safer and putting the main Stepoc retaining wall to work, as designed.

Wodehouse Hotel during construction

The opening date for the new Woodhouse Hotel is not until summer 2017, as the project is very much of a stop / start nature as other work on housing, doctor’s surgeries and other development projects allow. This has been one of the key advantages of Stepoc over other retaining wall methods, as it has allowed blocks to be purchased and delivered as required, helping cash flow and allowing work to continue even with low levels of staff. The ease of construction has meant that skilled bricklayers have not been needed at any stage, again keeping the costs down.

By the middle of March 2016 the retaining walls should be complete and by the summer they will have disappeared as other walls and services are put in place, but the space they will help create will be impressive once complete.

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