Broad Meadow - Midland Heart

A 132-bed extra care scheme for the over 55s, Broad Meadow in Dudley is more than just a flagship venture for Midland Heart, the largest housing and regeneration organisation in the West Midlands. It also represents a challenging building project with a complex roof constructed using in excess of 1,800 timber trusses supplied and fitted by TRA member, Harlow Timber Systems.

The plan of Broad Meadow is circular. A three-storey building, housing one and two bedroom apartments, curves 270° to link with communal facilities which include a restaurant, shop and well-being facility. At the centre are landscaped gardens and courtyards.

Harlow Timber Systems was asked by William Davis, the building contractor for the £16 million scheme, to devise a roof for the apartment building. Working with the engineer BSP Consulting, it was decided at an early stage to span the radii of the roof with timber trusses.

The roof is formed using dual, preformed mono-pitched trusses set out in a radial pattern on either side of a 2.5m wide flat roofed 'corridor' which accommodates sun pipes to allow daylight into the accommodation below. The trusses measure 8m and 7.5m respectively from external to internal wall plate; spandrel panels are incorporated alongside party-walls.

With the trusses fanning out from 300mm centres on the inner curve to 600mm centres on the outer curve, a key challenge was to bend the bracing to follow the shape of the roof. The external overhang of the eaves was cut short in specific areas allowing raised parapets and inboard gutters to form features of the external elevation. Internally the top-ends of service risers had to be fitted in between the trusses and other mechanical engineering equipment accommodated.

Humam Sharifi, associate at architect Nicol Thomas Ltd, comments: "Timber trusses provided the ideal solution for this project and the trussed rafters were very flexible in responding to the curved roof over variable spans together with its inboard and outboard characteristics. Harlow Timber Systems provided invaluable support and knowledge throughout, particularly in the way they coordinated their design to reflect the combination of a warm roof system with a cold ventilated arrangement."