City centre building inspections present their own special challenges. Busy roads and pavements, together with the close proximity of other buildings, mean that erecting scaffolding or mast-climbers can be inconvenient and obstructive; sometimes impossible. In such circumstances, the use of UAVs can represent a safe, quick and low cost alternative.
Manchester’s 24 Mount Street (formerly ‘London Scottish House’) is an excellent example. A five-storey structure originally built in 1973, it stands next door to the Grade 2-listed Midland Hotel and across the road from the Manchester Central exhibition centre. In August 2016, its owner, FORE Partnership, was granted planning consent for a partial demolition and refurbishment project that would see the creation of 100,000 sq ft of grade A space, a green wall and a rooftop terrace.
In preparation for the works, the contractor commissioned SUAVE to carry out a detailed aerial inspection of the roof and topmost level. In addition to high resolution photography, the deliverables included a point cloud and a 3D model that architects and engineers could subsequently use in their planning.
Given the restricted access (including one-way streets on two sides) and the building’s unusual L-shape, a UAV-based survey provided to be the ideal solution. On the basis of a single half-day visit, SUAVE completed the required photographs and telemetry, which it then processed and provided in a variety of forms, including the required point cloud and 3D model.
Construction work on the £13m scheme is due to continue until towards the end of this year. The finished property will have seven storeys with retail units on its two lowest floors. There will be modern office space above, together with a rooftop terrace to be used for meetings and social gatherings. An noteworthy design feature will be a ‘green wall’ on its southern elevation, in which occupants will be encouraged to grow fruit, vegetables and other plants.