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Construction by numbers

Barakat Contractors Limited (BCL) were approached to complete a challenging project at the beginning of 2020.

The scope of the project was to construct a baseball structure at Fowlds Park, Auckland for Auckland Council. It was essential that it could be assembled and dissembled annually to coincide with the seasonal sport as the area of construction is also used as a rugby field.

Architectural concept drawings were provided to BCL from Auckland Council, outlining the structural requirements. BCL engaged JP Marshall Engineering to provide the engineer design drawings. BCL was already committed to other projects and with tight time frames, BCL made the decision to outsource the steel fabrication to JP Marshall Engineering as well. Steel fabrication comprises columns, panels and dugouts. The structure at its highest point is 6 meters with a total length of 51 meters, along with 3-meter wide x 9 meter long dugouts that sit behind the panels at each end. Design and Fabrication work took approximately four months to complete.

In August, the galvanised steel frame arrived at the BCL yard ready to be clad with chainlink netting. Timber seating was fixed inside the dugout frames. In October 2020 our team arrived on-site to complete the initial installation. Six truckloads of materials were delivered to the site. Using our 6-tonne excavator, Bryce our experienced operator was tasked with managing the installation. Due to the turf (artificial grass under pitch grass), extreme care was crucial. During the initial installation, plywood was used to limit damage from machine movement on the turf.

Each piece of the frame is identified using a letter/numeric system – a construction by numbers and is fixed to a subsurface concrete plinth – 18 in total – the largest plinth being 544mm by 420mm. These plinths are covered with turf after installation so not exposed to players during use.

Whilst a great achievement for BCL and its team this was not without its challenges. Due to the height of the structure, it was not an easy undertaking. BCL didn’t think we would be using our recently purchased 6-tonne excavator to install a baseball structure. Another challenging aspect was the coordination and planning of all parties involved to ensure a well-planned construction, along with ensuring the safety of all involved, staff and public.

During construction, BCL didn’t think we would be returning to disassemble and assemble the baseball structure again, but we are! This gave BCL the opportunity to make improvements from lessons learnt during the initial construction mainly with machinery. BCL has changed from a scissor lift to an all-terrain boom lift. We are now using a telehandler that enables the lifting of both the framing and dugouts for seasonal storage e.g., dugouts are stored at Fowlds Park and all Columns and Panels are stored at AIM Services’ Henderson Depot. Rubber turf mats have replaced plywood to further minimise potential damage to the turf.

BCL’s digger returns twice a year as the best piece of equipment for lifting and holding the steel columns in place when fixing to the inground concrete plinths.  BCL is extremely proud of the work completed, a fantastic effort and collaboration from our team and our client AIM Services.

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Published in WIRED December 2021 by Fencing Contractors NZ