Guys Hospital, London UK

Project facts

Description Guys Hospital, London
Client Balfour Beatty
Challenge Design and errect an unique access solution on fully operational hospital towers standing in the centre of a building complex

A £25 million refurbishment project on Europe’s tallest hospital is now being undertaken with help from a complex and bespoke scaffolding and mastclimbing work platform solution, designed and installed by SGB (Formerly Harsco Infrastructure). The project centres on the two multi-storey tower blocks at the world-famous Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in Southwark, both of which are in need of considerable attention.

Communication and User Towers, standing in the centre of hospital complex, were constructed in the 1970‘s using lightweight concrete in order to reduce their overall weight and improve fire resistance. Over the years this concrete had begun to spall and pose a danger to the surrounding environment. The task on the 122m tall User Tower, which houses the hospital wards and research laboratories, was to clean the localised concrete spalling which had begun to expose the suspended, precast concrete balconies to corrosion, and then to replace 5,300m² of the original, poorly-performing glazing units. The 142.6 meter tall Communication Tower, containing lifts, stairs and main services, required a complete recladding as spalling was exposing the concrete’s steel reinforcement to the elements

Site access

SGB was asked to devise and implement a bespoke solution which used the most appropriate equipment and skills to provide safe, flexible and practical access that would allow the refurbishment work to be carried out. The other hospital buildings surrounding the two towers imposed restrictions on the project right from the outset, by severely limiting access at ground level and limiting the space available to store materials on site. The congested location of the hospital, adjacent to London Bridge Station and the famous Shard tower, also added to the challenges involved by limiting access to the site for material deliveries

Load bearing gantry


“There was no opportunity to fix any scaffold to the ground as both towers stand in the centre of the hospital complex, and in some places they’re also surrounded by glass roofs of adjacent buildings,” explains SGB Site Project Manager Bob Reid. “To get around this restriction we designed and installed load-bearing gantry which was anchored to the 8th and 11th floor of each tower. The anchoring was done using cantilevered structural steel “gallow” brackets able to hold loads of up to 17 tonnes.

"We also installed a temporary hoist to transport materials and passengers between the ground and gantry levels, so that the refurbishment work could progress without disrupting the hospital’s day-to-day operation,” adds Bob Reid. Safe and secure suspended platform were affixed to the gantry, servicing areas between the gantry and the glass roofing which surrounds some areas below the towers.




To service the areas above the gantry, Harsco’s mast-climbing work platforms were fitted and anchored to the walls of each tower. “Using these Mastclimbers™meant that the building, and the patients, were not completely covered in darkness for long periods of time which would happened using traditional access methods with external scaffold sheeting,” explains Cameron Reid, UK Operations Director for Mechanical Access.



Hanging scaffold


A lecture theatre whose raked seating area extends out from the top of the Communications Tower posed yet another challenge to SGB. The in-house designers projected a hanging scaffold that was assembled from the top downwards enabling access to the upper floors of the tower. This scaffold also supported a suspended platform providing access to the underside of the concrete soffits. “This hanging scaffold really typifies the way in which we’ve had to create totally bespoke solutions for each part of this highly complex project,“ adds Brendan Fox, SGB System Designer. ”We’ve also had to be prepared to be flexible at every stage as the hospital needs to remain fully operational throughout the project, so any disruption has to be kept to an absolute minimum.”


“We chose to work with SGB as they were one of the few scaffold suppliers who could provide the sort of combined scaffolding and mast climbing solution we needed. Working with one point of contact has certainly helped simplify coordination for us and Harsco; in conjuction with Balfour Beatty‘s temporary works engineers, a unique and totally bespoke solution is working extremely well.”

John McCallion, Project Manager, Balfour Beatty  

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