The Catalyst at Newcastle Helix - MGL Group
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The Catalyst at Newcastle Helix

Drainage | Retaining Structures | Externals | Foundations & floor slabs

The Catalyst is an award-winning building and forms part of Newcastle University’s Helix development, one of Europe’s most exciting innovation hubs.

Rainton Construction was appointed to undertake civil engineering and groundworks, collaborating with the architect and main contractor to support the delivery of the £50m project in Newcastle’s city centre.

Scope of works

  • Drainage
  • Tubosider pipework and attenuation
  • Pile cropping
  • RC pile caps and foundations
  • RC Retaining walls
  • Ground floor slabs
  • Installation of waterproof tanking and gas membrane system
  • Hard landscaping
  • Installation of street furniture

We undertook hard landscaping to enhance the urban space for building users, visitors and local ecology. The materials used across the university campus creates a cohesive theme and the high-quality terrace of Blue Irish limestone, mature trees and directional lighting connects the surrounding public realm spaces. The rain garden incorporated naturally oxidising Corten which provided a contemporary, sustainable design.

Due to the city centre location, all deliveries had to be managed and brought to site ‘just in time’. Careful coordination to minimise deliveries significantly decreased the amount of traffic movements, noise and reduced the project’s carbon footprint.

The Catalyst has set the standard for sustainability in the region. The project incorporates an interlinked rain garden that deals with surface water as part of an integrated urban drainage solution and other pipe storage attenuation. The extensive green roof encourages wildflower growth and a habitat for insects. Other sustainable technologies including a central air handling plant and photovoltaic panels, which will generate up to 27,000kWh of electricity per year.

The holistic approach, both to fabric, services and management of the building have resulted in an impressive 87.2% score and BREEAM Outstanding rating. Only one of two commercial buildings outside London to have done so.

With an extensive set of client requirements, the project required a joined-up approach between the design and construction team as well as the clients’ stakeholders. Harnessing proactivity and teamwork the project overall was completed 6 weeks ahead of programme and £7m under budget. The partnership was recognised at Construction Excellence North East Awards 2020 and the scheme won in three categories.

We are proud to have helped deliver world-class facilities, combining cutting-edge architecture with new public spaces, creating a supportive environment for businesses to catalyse world-changing ideas.