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Comment | Collaboration is the key to success

Mark Hansford

The biggest and best British Construction Industry Awards (BCIA) to date took place last week in London. More than 1,100 of the industry’s elite gathered to celebrate construction and engineering excellence from the last year.

This year’s winners are a truly outstanding bunch - having delivered projects procured in the depths of recession on time, on budget and to the delight of their end users.

These awards really do showcase and rightly celebrate the best that British construction can deliver when all parties work collaboratively and to a common goal. All 18 winners were excellent in their class.

5 Pancras Square

But three really did stand out. The first, perhaps inevitably, was the Dawlish Sea Wall emergency works project, which claimed the Judges’ Special Award.

Prime minister David Cameron’s “Orange Army” has received so many plaudits already it is approaching the stuff of legend, so it was superb to see the team rewarded in the BCIA - the industry’s awards where you are judged by your peers and peers alone.

The judges were blown away by the community engagement and collaborative working. A true team working approach was instrumental in rescuing a regional disaster. Our judges felt the real challenge now is to ensure that the lessons are passed on to other projects and for it not to be written off as a one-off.

The big winner on the night was London Borough of Camden’s Five Pancras Square project. It scooped the headline Prime Minister’s Award for Better Public Building and again proved what can be achieved when client, architect and contractor work together as a team. There, the challenge was to build a new council HQ that also served as a community hub and it has been achieved brilliantly.

But special mention has to go to London Borough of Barking and Dagenham’s Jennie Coombes who was singled out for praise by winning the Outstanding Achievement Award.

This year the judges wanted to recognise Jennie, the council’s regeneration manager, for the tireless way she has strived to improve the social housing in her community. Her project - William Street Quarter - sets the bar for new social housing. Delivered using the very latest in offsite construction techniques by Laing O’Rourke it still had the character and charm that has made it an instant hit with its inhabitants.

The judges were instantly struck by Jennie’s grasp of what her community wanted and got the impression that without someone like her connecting to and working for that community, you just don’t get the projects that are fit for purpose.

We thought she was just amazing and the comment was “we need more like her”.

In fact we need more like all our winners. These projects really do show what can be achieved - is being achieved - when people with a passion for their community come together and work collaboratively. Well done to you all.

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