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Gateway to Chinatown 
 

Description of Works
As part of ongoing plans to improve Chinatown, Westminster City Council granted consent for the London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA) to commission a new 15-metre high gate on Wardour Street – the largest of its kind in the UK – to join the area’s three other Chinese gates.

Services used on this project Structures
Delivering Innovation

FM Conway began the preparatory groundworks for the structure in late summer 2015, uncovering a three-metre wide trunk sewer running down the middle of the street which had not been accounted for on the original plans.  Once ground investigation works had been completed, the site team had to be especially careful when constructing the gate’s two new 16-metre concrete pile foundations to avoid damaging the services running underneath the street.

The column bases for the gate, each weighing around three tonnes, were installed with thick steel connections onto the piles.  The team then used a 20-tonne crane to put the main steel sections of the gate in place, taking extra care to avoid collisions with surrounding buildings.  Once the steel frame had been erected, a complex vertical pouring technique was used to encase it in concrete.  

The shuttering for the concrete had be to very precise as this was to be the finished exterior surface.  Once the concreting was completed, the next stage for the team was to position the gate’s three, three-metre long timber roof sections onto the concrete framework and fix them into position.  
 

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The project exemplified the spirit of collaboration which the gate represents, with local residents and business owners even making Chinese pastries and tea for the team during the works!

Adam Barnes - Senior Contracts Manager at FM Conway
Challenges and Solutions

Traditionally reserved for Chinese royal palaces, all of the cladding and architectural materials for the gate were shipped to Britain from China.  The oak and red pine for the new structure were sourced from a single mountainous area near Beijing.  

Chinese contractors, brought to London by the LCCA especially for the project, completed the architectural and cladding works.  

Adam Barnes, Senior Contracts Manager at FM Conway, explained: 
“FM Conway oversaw the project management of the final stage, using an interpreter to communicate with the Chinese teams.  The Chinese operatives spoke a number of different dialects, so it was crucial that everybody could understand what was going on to ensure the safety of all on site.   

“It was also important for us to liaise with locals to keep them safe and minimise disruption.  Restricted working hours ensured that any noisy activities were not conducted before 10am and we allowed local shops and businesses to put their signs and banners onto our hoardings to reduce disruption to their trading.  

“The project exemplified the spirit of collaboration which the gate represents, with local residents and business owners even making Chinese pastries and tea for the team during the works!” 

Once in place, the FM Conway team then completed paving works underneath the structure.  The scheme was safely finished in time for Chinese New Year in February, with the gate centre-stage of local celebrations.