Restrospective: ‘Considerable Recognition’ for Trafford City Access Gantry

Vinci Construction UK – Mobile Access and Lifting Gantries – Trafford Palazzo

Trafford City is one of Britain’s largest shopping destinations. With more than 35 million annual visits and 10% of the country’s population living within a 45 minute drive of the centre, it’s fair to say that the location is both familiar and iconic to a great many of us living in the UK.

In November 2021, one of the venues shopping and leisure facilities, formerly known as Barton Square, was rebranded as the Trafford Palazzo. This followed Peel L&P’s acquisition of the square in May of 2021, as a result of previous owners INTU’s collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was all predated by a £75 million renovation back in 2018, which vastly evolved the scope and style of the shopping centre, transforming it into a venue that could become the Trafford Palazzo. A sizable portion of that renovation was centred around rebuilding a new and more striking glass ceiling atop the renovated second level. Visit the shopping centre today, and you’ll be sheltered by a luxury glazed glass double barrel vaulted roof, with a glass dome that matches the shape and size of the St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The construction of this centrepiece was an impressive undertaking. Main contractors, Vinci Construction UK set out to match the level of finish and quality characteristic of the wider locale. The ceiling was designed with a steel frame skeleton, to be completed with glazed glass panelling. Vinci needed a safe and effective way to lift those panels up to the aperture and install them across the steel framework.

That brief similarly included a number of stipulations. No solution could require drilling or fixing to the new structure, and it could not be too heavy or obtrusive as to not interfere with other areas of redevelopment, or to put too much strain on the new roof. The construction was also limited to progressing during the night hours while the shopping centre was closed, making efficiency a priority.

It became obvious that the answer to Vinci’s dilemmas lay in a bespoke, or custom, solution. The access apparatus provided by Jasper Products took the shape of 4 travelling gantries along each 40 metre stretch of barrel roof. Instead of requiring drilling, the gantries could utilise the buildings existing cleat fixing points; they were likewise made from lightweight but strong aluminium, minimising stress on the new structure.

Modular flatpacked components of the gantries ready for delivery.

Furthermore, the gantries were designed with efficiency as a priority, both in regards to the installation of the gantries themselves, and how they could speed up the installation of the glass roof, bringing the new Barton Square to the public as soon as possible. The gantries were flat-packed for a quick delivery and modular for ease of installation. All four gantries were able to work simultaneously, providing installation platforms for multiple operatives at multiple positions along the ceiling. 

A mobile access gantry seen from the side.

The gantries made use of Jasper Products’ unique track and trolley system, which allowed them to move effortlessly along the length of the barrel. The braking mechanism designed for the track and trolley is easy to use, excising the need for extra operative training.
(To discover another of the many varied uses for this system, explore how Jasper Products used their track to facilitate the repair of a steel jetty.)

The gantries also solved the problems associated with lifting the panels; fitted with two hoists per platform operated at platform level, installation staff could easily and safely manoeuvre the panels exactly where they were needed.

Two lifting gantries seen from the side.

The Cladtech Associate Site Inspection report commented on Jasper Products’ contribution to the redevelopment, stating: ‘[Jasper Products’] access system [is] an example of how a bespoke access system can ultimately prove to be the most efficient…in achieving all around holistic benefits to a project’.

Overall, the goal of Jasper Products’ involvement was to facilitate progress in a way that brought every advantage to the redevelopment project, and remove the need for compromise. In looking back, the company is pleased to have played a part in the transformation of the Trafford Palazzo as it continues to evolve.

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