Last night the cream of Britain’s construction industry gathered at the Grosvenor House Hotel to celebrate successes and learn from others through the British Construction Industry Awards.
It is certainly early days, but we are at last seeing some very positive signs that the UK is starting to rekindle growth in the economy. And as we continue the slow but steady battle out of recession, the value of continued investment in infrastructure cannot be underestimated.
Once again the British Construction Industry Awards have demonstrated that quality design and construction remain central to public and private sector infrastructure clients’ ambitions. As they strive to deliver better services to customers while reducing the cost of operating and maintaining assets, it is very clear that investment up front to improve the design and construction process pays massive dividend in the long run.
This year the awards attracted another fantastic range of entries, showing that year in year out the industry genuinely delivers better, more innovative, products and does so through greater collaboration and team working.
With 139 high quality entries this year the challenge was first to shortlist down to 40 UK projects and five international schemes to visit and review before selecting the winners.
The role that the public sector now plays in driving and inspiring construction quality was demonstrated by the 29 schemes on the shortlist for the government-backed Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award. The public sector is truly leading the way in terms of value for money, design quality and overall project success.
This year greater prominence was given to two award categories, reflecting their vital and growing importance to the industry. The Health and Safety award, supported by the Health & Safety Executive; and the Sustainability Award backed by the government’s Green Construction Board. Both underline areas in which the industry simply cannot afford to cut corners.
In addition to the project-related categories, another 22 projects were shortlisted for the special category awards which recognise excellence in product design and in the implementation of building information modelling technologies.
Picking out winners was difficult, but this year’s civil engineering category winners were all outstanding projects which showcase how best practice engineering can overcome many a complex challenge.
The Major Civil Engineering Project of the Year went to Southern Water’s Cleaner Seas for Sussex project, delivered by the 4Delivery construction joint venture and supported by MWH. It is notable for the way a hostile public has been won round, both through considerate construction and innovative design, including the largest green roof of its kind in the UK.
The Civil Engineering Project of the Year went to Transport for London’s hugely complex Hammersmith Flyover strengthening job.
“British engineering at is best,” is how the judges’ described Amey’s work to deliver £15M of strengthening works in a tight 23 week design and construction programme.
And Gem Bridge, winner of the Civil Engineering Project of the Year, for schemes up to £3M, illustrated the best that collaborative working can bring, with Devon County Council and Dawnus Construction, “working together to find the best and safest construction techniques”.
Best Practice award WINNER: THameslink -Borough viaduct
With so much best practice on show this year, picking a winner for the Best Practice Award category was always going to be tough.
In the end, Network Rail beat off projects for the Environment Agency, Highways Agency and Transport for London with Its Thameslink - Borough Viaduct scheme.
Designed by Atkins with architect Jestico & Whiles and principal contractor Skanska UK, the 350m twin-track viaduct spanning Borough Market, Borough High Street and the approaches to London Bridge Station required extensive demolition and reinstatement of properties and a historic, listed cast iron roof.
Intensive liaison with local businesses kept Borough Market operational throughout.
The area is rich in cultural heritage, archaeology and listed buildings and has a complex interface with the Borough Market, its traders, local residents, businesses and Southwark Cathedral. The viaduct is adjacent to a busy operational railway. Workforce engagement and the need to minimise the impact of the project on the community has been the key to its successful and safe delivery. The project has been run in a collaborative manner, including collaborative planning sessions where all stakeholders are involved in the detailed planning and a joint recognition scheme.
Best practice award “The co-operation within the whole team was outstanding and working with the community at every stage of facilitated the construction. A win-win for all concerned and an fine exemplar of best practice,” said the judges.
Also shortlisted were the Environment Agency’s Banbury Flood Alleviation Scheme, Transport for London’s Hammersmith Flyover Strengthening Phase 1, the Highways Agency’s M1 J10-13 Improvement.