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Leith at leisure

Derelict areas of Edinburgh’s dockland are being revived in readiness for a royal resident. Claire Symes reports.

With Edinburgh’s Port of Leith still a thriving commercial facility, current redevelopment is not the wholesale transformation of other dockland regeneration schemes. Nevertheless, derelict parts are being turned into prestige waterside developments.


Possibly the largest such project currently under construction is Ocean Terminal, whose focal point will be the Royal Yacht Britannia (see box).


Designed by Sir Terence Conran, the £100M retail and leisure complex will include a 12 screen cinema, shops and a wide range of restaurants. The three storey, 54,000m 2development is being funded by port operator Forth Ports Authority in financial partnership with Bank of Scotland.


Project management specialist Heery International is leading the construction team at Ocean Terminal. ‘The site had lain derelict since the early 1980s and presented significant challenges to the design and programming, ’ says Heery International associate Malcolm Butchert.


Main contractor Bovis Lend Lease was appointed early in the design phase and worked closely with civil and structural consultant Mott MacDonald and Heery to progress the project as quickly and efficiently as possible.


‘Before the main construction work could begin, existing buildings and foundations had to be cleared. Some land reclamation and backfilling of docking bays was also needed to create a straight water frontage along the western and northern boundaries, ’ says Mott MacDonald project manager Mark Bourke.


Construction of the new quay and land reclamation work was carried out over the summer months last year. The quay is formed by Larson LX32 sheet piles driven to an average depth of 4m below the sea bed level in the harbour. The retaining wall is topped by an 850mm square reinforced concrete capping beam tied at 2m centres by 50mm diameter rods to an anchor wall sited 20m behind the quay wall.


‘Demolition waste from the site was crushed and used in the land reclamation, greatly reducing the amount of material which needed to be brought to site, ’ says Bourke. ‘In total 100,000m 3of material was used, and compacted by vibrating rollers to prevent differential settlement.’


In fact the compaction was so good that when piling work started in October last year the ground was found to be far denser than expected. Over 2,700 driven precast concrete piles were installed to a nominal depth of 10m below ground level and founded in the underlying boulder clay.


Work on erecting the complex’s steel frame structure began early this year and fitting of glazed panels, cladding, lifts, stairs and escalators is now well under way.


Shop fitters are expected to move in early next year and Ocean Terminal is scheduled to open its doors on 4 October 2001.

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