Reading’s iconic Metal Box building in Forbury Road, a prominent feature of the town for many years, is shrinking daily thanks to local demolition experts J Mould (Reading). Given special mention in Reading’s 2008 Tall Buildings Strategy “due to its prominence and distinctive shape”, Energis House, as it is formally known, is currently under demolition prior to being replaced by a new 185,000-sq-ft building.
Developer Bell Hammer and its development partner M&G Real Estate (formerly PruPIM) awarded the prestigious demolition contract to Burghfield-based JMR after reviewing the company’s 45-year track record of successful demolition projects across the South of England. Demolition work started on 7 April 2014 and will complete in time for construction to commence in September 2014.
Colin Prendergast, JMR’s Demolition Manager said, “J Mould (Reading) is delighted to be selected as demolition contractor for this prestigious project. JMR has the specialist skills and experience to tackle every aspect of a major demolition project such as the Metal Box building, and our in-house teams were involved at an early stage. Prior to demolition commencing, it’s essential to identify and strip all non-structural materials from the building, either for safe disposal or for recycling and re-use.”
JMR will encounter some relatively uncommon problems during the course of the demolition works. The close proximity of the site to the main Reading-London railway line requires special attention, and JMR’s operations team work closely with their counterparts in Network Rail to minimise any risk arising from the live track to contractors, Network Rail staff or the general public.
Construction work on Queen’s House, as the new £4.5-million headquarters for the Metal Box Company was originally named, started in late 1972. The four-storey, 130,000-sq-ft building was officially opened in September 1975, and was hailed for its innovative doughnut-shaped design with features that included an extended concrete structure accommodating both offices and an underground car park as well as a full-size swimming pool.
Readers wanting to stay abreast of JMR’s progress on this major demolition project can follow daily activity via a real-time video feed. This window into the final days and weeks of a once-bustling commercial centre shows at a glance the high skill-levels and innovative techniques employed by demolition experts. Viewers can admire the inch-perfect operation of high-reach excavators in close proximity to other structures in a busy town centre.