Project outline

UK Real Estate contracted Murphy to complete phase one of this multi-faceted project at King’s Cross Bridge, London, which began in July 2017.

Following a complex demolition, a mixed-use development will be built. Murphy will re-build the basement, which will partly be used by London Underground, and the rest used for shower rooms and toilets for the commercial floors. Another section will provide restrooms for the retail premises.

At ground level, the site will be prepared for UK Real Estate to create further retail space, along with a reception area and lift by the main entrance. Commercial spaces will be based on the first and second floor.

Key challenges

The challenges that this project presented were almost unprecedented in scale.

The site lies directly above two rail tunnels with the retained basement slab actually being the tunnel soffit of the Metropolitan Line, which is part of the London Underground network, and the Moorgate Line that is part of the Network Rail Network.

Above ground, the site is one of the busiest cross-sections in the capital, making logistics a huge challenge and regular deliveries almost impossible. And with so little adjacent space on the site, using necessary equipment like tower cranes in a traditional manner was also impossible.

Meanwhile, working through the approvals process with the relevant authorities added huge complexity. Part of the project involved demolition of buildings at the entrance of a disused underground platform, which essentially involved working out a permit process for which there was no clear precedent.

And finally, utilities presented an enormous challenge. Given the age of the site and the variety of original suppliers, providing new connections in the simplest way possible was not straightforward.

Project delivery and innovations

This project simply wouldn’t have been possible without our ‘One Murphy’ ethos – which refers to our ability to self-manage and self-deliver every aspect of a project.

Our in-house engineers and consultants were vital in providing innovative solutions to various challenges, in particular with regard to the rail interfaces and temporary works. Without the space necessary for a tower crane base, the crane was adapted and attached to the existing structure. Complex cantilevering has been essential when rebuilding over the railway tunnels. And anti-vibration bearing springs were installed in the foundations to ensure the long-term structural integrity of the newly built basement.

Elsewhere, our many years of logistical and infrastructural experience has come to the fore. Directing deliveries to site is a constant challenge, and a CLOCS management system has been essential. But managing various authorities has been even more difficult. Keeping process delays to a minimum has only been possible because of our experience of working on joint-party ventures, and our history of working with the public sector.

For utilities, our newly acquired IDNO and IGT licenses have been pivotal to the smooth running of the project. Being able to implement utilities ourselves has saved time, saved money, and prevented the slow process of working with suppliers on uniquely difficult connections.

Key facts
  • Complex demolition over London Underground and Network Rail assets
  • Full restoration of basement for London Underground and commercial use
  • New steel frame structure built off of the existing steel structure and perimeter walls over two separate railway tunnels
  • Anti-vibration bearing springs installed in the steel structure and foundations
  • Utilities self-installed using IDNO and IGT licenses
  • Engagement with key stakeholders: TFL, London Underground, Network Rail, Camden Council
Photo credit: Latitude Architects and Designers
Photo credit: Latitude Architects and Designers

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