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No clues in Ilford steel building collapse

Preliminary investigations into the cause of a steel framed building collapse in Ilford in east London has yet to reveal any clues into why it failed.

Contractor Ashe told NCE that early investigations into the collapsed five-storey building had not revealed any obvious causes.

“No one can work out what the cause was,” said Ashe director Andrew Morris.

The steel structure was “topped out” just two weeks ago but Morris told NCE that the structure had been mostly completed months ago.

“There were no significant operations prior to the collapse,” added Marshall.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is investigating the collapse and is likely to focus on a 29m long, one storey deep steel truss spanning over the top of the steel auditorium. The truss collapsed on 31 January bringing down the adjacent steelwork.

Contractor Ashe was building a new £6.1M, 1,000 seat, Worship Centre for client City Gates Church in Ilford, due to open later this year. The building was designed by structural engineering firm Heyne Tillett Steel and the steel frame erected by Norfolk based firm DGT Structures.

Following the collapse, contractors have been dismantling the structure. A small fire broke-out during Sunday when sparks caused from dismantling the works lit-up a small bund. The blaze was put-out shortly afterwards.

Causes of collapse

For a collapse to occur after the steel frame has been completed has baffled structural experts said ICE affiliated Temporary Works Forum (TWF) technical secretary John Carpenter.

“For this to happen after top-out i.e. completion of frame and concrete work, something catastrophic must have occurred,” said Carpenter adding that it was a “very rare” event.

Carpenter said that steel failure, once a structure has been completed, is a “disproportionate collapse” because it should have been designed to withstand these forces.

“The failure is likely to be either down to a gross design error or something happened during the construction process,” added Carpenter.

Once the cause of collapse has been established, Carpenter said it’s important that any information should be released to the public so that lessons can be learnt in the engineering industry.

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