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Pump up the volume

GEOSYNTHETIC MANUFACTURER Maccaferri is using its Terramesh Large soil reinforcement system for the first time in the UK on the site of the new Gateshead Music Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Some 1000m 2of the Terramesh system is being used to form a series of terraced slopes in the grounds, which overlook the River Tyne. The designs by French landscape architect Desvigne & Dalnoky are intended to match the futuristic look of the Sir Norman Foster & Partners' building, which has a curved roof structure.

Consultant Mott MacDonald needed to form eight sinuous terraced levels of varying width, which blend in with the surrounding natural slope. Maccaferri, working for main contractor Hall Construction Services, proposed a combination of bio-engineering and soil reinforcement using the Terramesh Large system. The firm's design and build contract, worth £80,000, involved design and supply of the materials for the slopes and terraces.

Terramesh Large is a bigger version of Maccaferri's established Terramesh system, with a maximum build height of 1m instead of the 0.45m and 0.6m of the smaller versions. Units are formed from a single sheet of hexagonal, triple-twist woven steel mesh which forms the front face and soil reinforcement elements for the slope.

It has three main parts: a horizontal soil reinforcement section, a facing section and a horizontal return top section.

Triangular steel formers provide added rigidity and allow easy installation of the mesh.

Maccaferri says the additional height allows faster and more cost-efficient installation and that the units have been designed to prevent bulging, which can be a problem with larger units. The finished structure has a smooth face and does not require external formwork.

At Gateshead, the exposed mesh sections are lined with a coir loopmat to stabilise the topsoil and create a medium for the planting scheme, which includes a wide variety of shrubs. Tree pits have also been included in the design to allow planting of semi-mature trees.

The Gateshead Music Centre is being built by client Gateshead Council and forms a key part of a new cultural quarter of Newcastle called Gateshead Quays. About 16ha of derelict land in the city centre is being redeveloped at a cost of £250M.

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