October 2013

Great excavations & sunken penthouses

From wealthy suburbanites craving more space in their mansions to overcrowded cities, the only way forward is down.

Lower-level luxury is the latest must-have in prime New York and London townhouses. Even though building underground is about 50% more expensive than building above ground, the impossibility of extending up or sideways make it the only viable option.

Lot coverage regulations in many countries stipulate that you can only build on certain parts and percentages of the lot, usually about 25 – 50%, but the basement area is generally not included in that percentage. So the depth and size of these sunken penthouses are limited only to the amount of money you are willing to spend, which will vary with soil conditions, … AND the ability of your concrete to withstand groundwater pressure.

As one of the world’s most crowded cities, Singapore has already built upward - with apartment buildings reaching as high as 70 stories -, reclaimed underused properties for housing and pushed out coastlines for more usable land. To accommodate its ever growing population, it is now considering a novel solution: building underground to create an extensive, interconnected city, with shopping malls, transportation hubs, public spaces, pedestrian links and even cycling lanes.

A rendering of underground science city, which would house as many as 4200 scientists and researchers

As groundwater pressure is high on the island nation, such projects will require smart concrete engineering and the use of PRAHs in concrete mixes, in order to provide durable and waterproof underground structures. Third generation crystalline admixtures, such as PENETRON ADMIX, have been used extensively for almost 2 decades in Singapore and provide total concrete protection to landmark projects such as Changi Airport Terminal 3, Vivo City, Gardens By the Bay, The Sail etc.

The American Concrete institute’s recent report on Chemical Admixtures for Concrete suggests crystalline admixtures as the only true PRAH (permeability-reducing admixture for hydrostatic conditions).

Onwards and downwards!

Jozef Van Beeck
Director International Sales & Marketing


Olympic Forest Park Observation Tower, Beijing, China


Mentougou Sewage Treatment Plant, Beijing, China


Ferrari Gestione Sportiva Building, Maranello, Italy


Metro Line 4, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Manufacturing Facility, Resende, Brazil

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Olympic Forest Park Observation Tower, Beijing, China

The Olympic Forest Park Observation Tower is Beijing’s latest addition to its incredible Olympic Park, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. Standing at 243 meters tall it is the largest structure in China's capital.

The Tower, located in the former Olympic Park in the north of Beijing overlooks the city’s North/South axis with views of the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Mao Tse-Tung mausoleum, Qianmen Gate, Drum Tower and Bell Tower.

The Olympic Forest Park covers a total area of about 18,900 square meters. The Observation Tower consists of five connected, taller and shorter towers with viewing platforms going up from 186m to 243m above ground.

Inspired by blades of grass the futuristic towers blend seamlessly into their surroundings of lush greenery and the modern architecture of the Olympic structures.

To protect the massive concrete foundation of this impressive new Beijing landmark the PENETRON System was applied to more than 30,000 square meters of concrete surface using the dry-shake application (basement slab) and coating application (retaining walls) to ensure concrete durability for many years to come.

Mentougou Sewage Treatment Plant, Beijing, China

The Mentougou Sewage Treatment Plant, located at Yongding River to the west of Beijing, has a water treatment capacity of 40’000 cubic meters per day. It is the key facility that provides water treatment services to over 120,000 residents in a 14 km2 radius.

For the first time in China, the plant utilizes a four-step microbiological cleaning process that involves a deodorizing process to ensure that discharged water meets national standards. 

To protect the concrete holding tanks against chemical attacks from the contained sewage water as well as water leakage, the contractor for this project, Hebei Construction Engineering Company, selected the PENETRON System. Subsequently PENETRON was applied to 20,000 square meters of concrete surface in the adjustment, condensation and sediment tanks of the Mentougou facility.

The contractor welcomed the simple brush application as it allowed Hebei Construction Engineering substantial time-savings compared to a membrane application. This significantly sped up the project construction schedule.

A ponding test conducted seven days after the PENETRON application confirmed absolutely no leakage in any of the treated concrete areas to the full satisfaction of the client, who approved the suitability of the PENETRON System on wastewater treatment projects.


Ferrari Gestione Sportiva Building, Maranello, Italy

The brand new Ferrari Gestione Sportiva (GES) Building articulates the values of a world-famous company known for its commitment to high quality products and distinguishable style.

The GES Building will house workshops, technical and administrative offices and will embody excellence in terms of style, efficiency and functionality.

Design activities, development and assembly of Ferrari’s Formula 1 race cars will be done in the building’s five departments: Quality, Gearbox Assembly, Engine Assembly, Vehicle Assembly and Electronics. Additionally, the building will also house the General Deposit, Box Preparation, washing areas, remote garage, KERS, FIA test bench, Pit stop area and Systems departments.

All racecars are completely assembled, controlled and reviewed in the GES Building.

The newest of Ferrari’s corporate buildings includes a 2-level basement in an area subject to ground water pressure.The general contractor, Italiana Costruzioni s.p.a., decided to protect the concrete foundation with a permeability reducing admixture to enhance concrete durability. The entire substructure of the GES Building was treated with PENETRON ADMIX over a total surface of 9,000 square meters. PENEBAR SW waterstops were installed in 1,400m of construction joints to prevent water ingress.

Metro Line 4, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Increasing demands in public transport and the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro resulted in a surge in investments to upgrade and extend the city's public transport system.

Rio de Janeiro has already begun to expand its metro network to tackle traffic problems with several new lines being built, including the new Metro Line 4 (Blue Line). This line will connect the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood in the west of the city, with Ipanema in the south, transporting an average of 300,000 commuters per day. Construction on the 16-km long metro line with six new stations commenced in June 2010 and is scheduled to be completed in 2016, just in time for the start of the Olympic Games.

PENETRON was chosen to waterproof the concrete of all six stations. Due to efficiency and ease of application, PENEBAR SW-55 waterstops replaced the initially specified PVC waterstops in the construction joints..

Metro Line 4 Rio de Janeiro: Nossa Senhora da Paz Station at Leblon

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Manufacturing Facility, Resende, Brazil

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.’s first plant in Brazil was built in Resende, Rio de Janeiro State. The US$1.5 billion investment underlines Nissan’s goal to become Brazil’s biggest Asian automotive brand.

The all-new manufacturing facility covers an area of 3-million square meters and will have a total capacity of 200,000 units per year. Additionally, it will create 2,000 new jobs and twice as many in the supply chain. The plant is scheduled to start operation in the first half of 2014 and will produce the March, Versa and Note models.

The location of the plant close to the Paraiba do Sul River posed a challenge for the waterproofing and protection of the underground concrete structure of the buildings. PENETRON was spray-applied in the crucial pit structures of the paint workshop to guarantee protection against water penetration.