22.09.2022 | Facade

Westgate Shopping Centre - Oxford, UK

The Westgate Shopping Centre, built between 1970 and 1972, was renovated in 2017. In the course of this, four new roofs, as well as a fall protection system, were installed. Discover below what was involved in this large project, and why our fall protection system was selected.

2 Ratings

Specialist series:

Some of the greatest challenges in this project were the roofs of different sizes. A comprehensive safety system had to be installed for each of these steel/glass roofs.

Christoph Ortner
Westgate Shopping Centre - four roofs, just one safety solution

The facade construction specialist se-austria, based in Schörfling, realises complex façades with around 120 employees in Schörfling and is part of the seele group in Gersthofen, Bavaria. They took on the design, engineering and installation of the three newly planned steel and glass roofs and the steel and glass membrane roof in the course of the renovation work at the Westgate shopping centre in Oxford. In total, the shopping centre offers plenty of space for a unique shopping experience on an area of 74,300 sqm. 


Hard facts

During the roof renovation, se-austria installed a total of 4,000 sq. m. of glass, 300 tonnes of steel, and 1,000 sq. m. of membranes. Here are the individual roofs in detail:

  • South Square roof:  covers a total of 1,742 sq. m. and consists of 432 laminated glass panes


  • South Square roof: the 800 sq. m. steel/glass construction includes 132 laminated glass panes and 1,070 sq. m. of ethylene tetrafluorethylene (EFTE) 


  • Middle Square roof: has a surface area of 1,100 sq. m. and consists of 138 trapezoidal laminated glass panes


  • Norfolk Street roof: the steel/glass roof has a surface area of 174 sq. m.

Our contribution was the installation of 6 lifeline systems in total, having a total length of 410 metres. In the course of this, 42 intermediate brackets and 8 corner pass-through elements were mounted on the roof. This allowed the safety system to be optimally matched to the roof form, and thus in turn to create the best possible protection. 



Some of the greatest challenges in this project were the roofs of different sizes. A comprehensive safety system had to be installed for each of these steel/glass roofs, in order to create safe access for future cleaning, servicing, and maintenance tasks. In addition, the fall protection system had to be designed to maintain a specific distance from the edge, so that it can always function as a restraint system. The height differences to be bridged between the individual roofs must also be remembered.

A safety system therefore had to be created which, in addition to the existing cleaning ledge present on both sides, made access to the rest of the roof surface possible, in order that positions could be reached which would otherwise be inaccessible.

Guide for safe facades

In terms of the roof connections themselves, it should be noted that the three larger roof surfaces have spans between 20 and 30 metres. Seele had to manufacture the main steel girders individually and in single pieces.

During this step, the subsequent safety systems were taken into consideration and/or pre-installed. Thanks to the coordination in advance, on the construction site only the intermediate brackets and corner points had to be installed and clamped to the cable system. 

The transport of the steel girders should also not be overlooked. This represented a particular challenge. With a length of 27 metres, each steel girder had to be brought from Greece to Oxford in a single piece. The hardest part was the final mile through the built-up area of Oxford.



Because of the challenges to be overcome, our AIO lifeline system with its “tripod” was selected as the basis. Our lifeline system provides optimum protection for the areas adjacent to the existing ledge, and allows the users to position themselves flexibly along the facade. All areas of the facade can thus be cleaned and serviced regularly. The additional fall edges created between the cleaning ledge and roof have thus been neutralised. 

Thanks to our fall protection, the splendour of the Westgate Shopping Centre’s facade is once again fully visible. In addition to the fundamental concept, i.e. cleaning from the ledge in safety, our discreet AIO lifeline system ensures that the rest of the facade does not lose its aesthetics. 



  • Comprehensive protection, even between the individual roofs


  • Safe cleaning, even away from the existing ledge, and flexible positioning on the facade by means of our AIO lifeline system


  • Thanks to the lifeline system, fall edges arising between the roofs are no longer a problem

You can find more information on safe facades in our free handbook. There you will learn more about safety, aesthetics and cost efficiency of fall protection.


Photo rights: © Laing O'Rourke / C. Rafferty.

Guide for safe facades