The Ellen Terry building, a former cinema in the heart of Coventry University’s city centre campus, is to be given an internal transformation by refurbishment specialist Overbury.

The art deco building which has been a feature of Coventry’s city centre landscape since 1880 is now the home of the media and performing arts courses at Coventry University, and is named after Dame Ellen Terry, a star of the Victorian age and one of the leading Shakespearian actresses of her time.

The university and Overbury plan to breathe new life into the building’s specialist facilities, remodelling and upgrading its theatre and performance changing rooms as well as its teaching areas, taking the building’s utility and flexibility to the next level.

The investment is part of Coventry University’s commitment to seek to create world-class environments to maximise the quality of the student, teaching and learning experiences and spaces it has to offer.

The Ellen Terry building boasts a range of versatile features including a music studio, computer suites, darkrooms and performance spaces, all tailored to the needs of those studying courses linked to photography, performing arts, media, film-making, popular music and more.

Overbury will be working alongside architects at Robothams, project managers and quantity surveyors at Gardiner & Theobald and mechanical and engineering consultants at Stuart Turner to deliver the internal transformation.

The refurbishment is the latest project in a long-standing relationship between Coventry University and Overbury, which has seen large-scale refurbishments at the Sir William Lyons Building, the Whitefriars Building and the Richard Crossman Building in the past.

Work is due to start in February and is expected to take 10 weeks to complete.

Dr Shaun Hides, Academic Dean of Coventry University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, said: “This is another fine example of the university’s investment in our faculty’s infrastructure and our commitment to providing excellent learning spaces for our students to take advantage of.

“We’re delighted with the ambition and support the university is showing through this development, which is a key part in the major investment in our faculty’s future. Together, these projects will take our Arts and Humanities facilities to the next level, giving our students access to innovative spaces that will support distinctive and truly cutting-edge approaches to creative and collaborative learning.”

Penny Mitchell, from Overbury, said: “We’re working alongside our partners using additional measures to ensure our work can be completed safely within the pandemic and are looking forward to seeing the project come to life.”

www.overbury.com

Test results showing poor performance of the ACM façade panels used on the Grenfell Tower façade were not disclosed to BBA when the manufacturer applied for certification. This week the Grenfell Tower Inquiry learned that an email sent in 2010 revealing poor fire test results needed to be kept ‘very confidential’.

Arconic’s president in France, Claude Schmidt, answered questions about testing of ‘Reynobond PE 55’ panels in which showed a difference in fire performance between flat panels and those produced in ‘cassette’ form.

The 2005 test on the aluminium composite material (ACM) cassette panel, which had a polyethylene core, showed it burned 10 times as quickly and released seven times as much heat and three times as much smoke when shaped in this way.

But instead of warning customers, the Arconic French subsidiary AAP SAS considered the test as a ‘rogue result’ and continued to sell the product using the classification it achieved when tested as a flat panel.

The inquiry heard that an internal Arconic email in 2010 had stated that the results of the ‘rogue result’ fire test on  ‘cassettes’ should be kept confidential.

When applying to BBA for a certificate to allow both panel versions to be sold on the UK high rise market, Arconic supplied only results from the flat panel test. However BBA require all available test data to be supplied.

The BBA issued Arconic with a certificate for both products stating that they achieved a Class 0 rating, the British equivalent of the Euroclass B rating.

Arconic’s Mr Schmidt, admitted to the Inquiry that the email suggested customers had been misled but it was not deliberate.

Panel Systems, a manufacturer of architectural, decorative, lightweight, sandwich and composite panels, has invested in a new state-of-the-art CNC machining centre and expand product range.

The new equipment, a SCM Morbidelli x400 Nesting Machine Centre, includes a 3.1m x 2.1m matrix vacuum flatbed which means the company can now fabricate and router panels up to 3m wide. A 5 axis head, which provides enhanced cutting capabilities, will also enable Panel Systems to provide more decorative designs using an extended range of materials.

In addition, the machine’s integrated 37 position tool holder and 16 position drill block, tool length detection device and Digital NC Module provides faster machining capabilities, which in turn helps to boost production rates and reduce lead times for customers.

A spokesperson at Panel Systems, said: “This investment in new equipment means our Sheffield factory is one of the best equipped facilities for panel fabrication in the UK. With over 40 years’ experience in the industry, we will continue to offer the most comprehensive panel fabrication services possible, whilst also meeting the needs of new and existing customers looking to specify larger panel formats in a wider range of materials.”

Since 1974, Panel Systems has provided a bespoke panel solutions for a diverse range of markets ranging from leisure and playground equipment to caravans, truck bodies, the window industry and construction.

Panel Systems offers a bespoke structural bonding and fabrication service, with the expertise to work with a wide range of facing materials, such as metals, plastics, timber and decorative laminates. The company also has 3 and 5 Axis CNC routers with a bed size of 3600mm x 1500mm allowing for the production of flexible designs and panel shapes.

For more information visit www.panelsystems.co.uk, call Panel Systems direct on: 01142 752881 or for pricing enquiries email sales@panelsystems.co.uk.

 

Professional Indemnity Insurance (PI) is emerging as a serious barrier to the recovery of the UK construction industry as it bounces back from Covid-19. Firms across the supply chain have seen  increasing costs and more stringent curbs on policies. In some cases, this risks putting companies’ future in doubt.

In recent years firms have reported sharp increases in premiums for PI insurance, while also seeing stricter curbs on the levels of cover. Some firms have reported four-fold increases in policy costs, while others have said that they can no longer secure cover.

Before Christmas Spector magazine reported that specialist contractors were facing significant insurance premium increases, sometimes up to 800%, as insurers left the market and those remaining looking to improve margins in a hardening market.

Rudi Klein, a barrister and former chief executive of SEC Group, said:”Small firms in construction supply chains are being asked to double their PI cover from £10 million  to £20 million. As they scrabble around to renew their policies, the only way to keep down premiums – which are already barely affordable – is to agree to huge excesses and exclusion of certain cover such as consequential losses.”

Construction Leadership Council (CLC) Professional Indemnity Insurance Group lead Samantha Peat said: “We are speaking to the UK Government and insurers to find ways to help businesses that could otherwise face an uncertain future due to the nature of their PI renewals.”

The CLC wants to support industry to tackle the issue. To do so it is calling on businesses from across construction to take part in a joint industry survey on the impact of PI insurance.

The CLC is asking for companies from across the industry to take part in a survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CLCPII It asks companies to provide confidential feedback on the costs and policy exclusions that they have experienced when renewing their cover. The poll is entirely confidential, but firms are asked to indicate their type of business to help target any future support on those areas of greatest need.

Ms. Peat continued: “We want businesses from across the industry to give us their views – whether you are affected or not – to help us shape the way we prepare a response from the whole sector.”

The survey will be live until 12 March 2021. Industry-level details of the results will be published by Construction Leadership Council and will be used to inform ongoing work to support the sector.

The former Ottakar’s bookstore in High Wycombe has been given a new lease of life and brought back to its former glory as a pillar of the town centre, through a state-of-the-art regeneration project featuring bespoke cladding panels from Proteus Facades.

The Proteus SC cladding panels are arranged in a striking half-hexagon design that appears to float outward from the main structure. The six metre high façade, where the panels themselves are embellished by intricately designed, leaf-shaped perforations, has the ability to stop people in their tracks while they gaze at the intriguing, shimmering aesthetic.

Prior to the refurbishment, the original building, which once stood proud on the corner of Queens Square fell into disrepair. In 2019 however, as part of an ongoing initiative to acquire, regenerate and re-let vacant shops to independent businesses, Wycombe District Council purchased the building and invested in a state-of-the-art refurbishment project. This included a complete redesign of the interior and an external upgrade to improve aesthetics and add more versatility to the town centre.

During the initial stages of the redevelopment, main contractors, Abbeymead Building Ltd. found that the glazing to the upper levels would need replacing, along with limited structural support positions where the perforated cladding could connect. This resulted in a complete redesign of this section, with full replacement of the windows and the spanning solution of the Proteus SC, lightweight perforated anodised aluminium panels, manufactured by Proteus Facades.

Proteus SC is an engineered panel system that is offered in either solid, perforated or mesh panel formats. By utilising an extensive range of metals, colours, textures and forms it can add another dimension to any façade cladding project. The system can be manufactured between 1mm and 5mm in thickness and an acoustic insulation layer encapsulated within the panel.

Installed by J & PW Developments Ltd, the Proteus SC panels at White Hart Street, were fabricated from a 3mm J57Up aluminium alloy with a brush polished, mirror effect finish, anodised to Anolok 543.

The bespoke laser-cut leaf pattern on the panels, visible both inside and out, also provides further visual appeal to the façade, offering a delicately designed brise soleil within and a striking external aesthetic for passers-by.

Each Proteus SC panel is secured in place using a bespoke aluminium support system, also manufactured by Proteus Facades, with a matching anodised coating. The brackets are fixed back to the original structure with a 200mm x 50mm aluminium extrusion at panel joints, spanning approximately 3700mm between the floor and slabs, and with 1100mm cantilevered upper and lower sections.

Further external works carried out during the redevelopment, completed in December 2020, include replacement of the flat roof and installation of a new shopfront set back from the pavement to create a covered seating area.

Internally, the building has been completely restructured to offer a ground floor space ideal for use as a restaurant and shops, along with first floor studio-style offices. All of which have great potential to attract some of High Wycombe’s up and coming businesses, which in turn is expected to boost footfall and improve the overall experience for visitors to the town.

For further information about Proteus SC or to view more inspirational rainscreen facades from Proteus Facades, visit: www.proteusfacades.com or call: 0151 545 5075.

New research has revealed that eight in ten social housing professionals believe that there are still a worrying number of liability concerns surrounding the construction of social housing developments, and that the revisions needed to the Decent Homes Standard should have happened when the social housing white paper was released in November last year.

In a survey of 150 decision makers involved in the specification of building materials used for social housing, 80% agreed that further clarification on which products are suitable is required in order to confidently specify building materials.

The research by Wienerberger, a manufacturer of wall, roof and landscaping innovations, explored several key social housing issues, including the housing shortage, sustainability and building quality. It found that the sector was in desperate need of support and guidance if it is to overcome the challenges it’s facing. This guidance was expected to be included in the social housing white paper which was released late last year, but it failed to clarify a number of key details the sector was waiting on.

When asked what they’d like to see in this guidance, respondents highlighted the following:

  • Any revised Decent Homes Standard legislation should include extended warranties on building materials to give both the landlord and tenant additional protection (82% of respondents agreed)
  • A clear guide to approved building materials should be included in the next version of the Decent Homes Standard (80% of respondents agreed)
  • Without knowing what is going to be in the revised Decent Homes Standard, it’s difficult to know which building materials to use (75% of respondents agreed)

While dealing with liability and specification concerns, the social housing sector also needs to increase the rate at which new homes are built to meet the government’s target of 300,000 new homes by 2025. 67% of the contractors Wienerberger surveyed said that in order to achieve this, more guidance and support is required from the government.

Another important target that the social housing sector must consider, is how it is going to meet the government’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2025. As energy use in UK homes accounts for 14% of the nation’s emissions, this poses a significant issue.

When asked, contractors saw their main obstacles to cutting carbon emissions as being a lack of legislation (44%) as well as a lack of understanding around how to build energy efficient homes (44%).

Wienerberger discussed its research findings with a panel of senior decision makers from across the social housing sector during a virtual roundtable. During the discussion, Nick Gornall, Head of Development at Great Places Housing Group, shared his views: “In terms of liability, we’re in it for the long haul in the social housing sector, so if we build badly, however it might be, we are only putting pressure on ourselves and damaging our own reputation. Our strong client principals underpin all of our development activity and play a key role in ensuring we don’t build the liabilities of the future.”

John Harris, Head of Sales – Housing at Wienerberger added: “If we were confident in the number of homes that were going to be built then we could invest in the products and labour required etc. But we need a clear strategy in order to get to that point, which currently is lacking.”

 

As the world of technology and construction develops, we are edging closer to the future science fiction envisioned. We may not be gliding around on hoverboards quite yet, but if the construction industry is anything to go by, there are some breath-taking innovations on the horizon.

Smart technology, or “Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology”, is currently transforming the construction industry and informing how we will live our lives for years to come. Built around connectivity and analytics, smart tech allows devices to link up with one another and share information, whether this is about the wearer, the location, or pretty much anything else. We’ve all become accustomed to smart technology in our day-to-day lives — where would we be without our mobile phones, our tablets, and our smartwatches? But as our cities and infrastructures grow, the construction industry is building smart technology into all walks of life.

From smart fridges to smart metropolises, let’s take a look at how smart technology is set to keep transforming our world and how the construction industry is utilising it.

Smart buildings

Imagine a building that could react to its residents, slightly alter itself to suit your every need, and do all this without even the flick of a switch. Smart technology has already made this possible. Within smart buildings, a specifically designed wearable device can transmit information to and from the building and make adjustments according to your needs.

Smart buildings are designed around the ideas of comfort and wellbeing, with a focus on peoples’ contentment. If, for example, you started to feel a little too hot, your wearable would transmit this message to the air conditioning system, and it would adjust the temperature for you.

However, there are complications to this design of course. For instance, how can one building react to the needs of each and every person within it? One option is to take an average reading for each inhabitant and create a reactive ‘average’ atmosphere. Or alternatively, highly accurate sensors could be installed that are able to locate and react to specific individuals accurately.

Drones and AI

Drones and artificial intelligence are also set to play an integral part in the future of the construction industry. Drones are already being created to map construction sites, plan work, and guide autonomous vehicles such as cherry pickers around the worksite. In fact, it only takes drones around 15 minutes to scan a site and map its terrain. In comparison, this job normally takes humans several days.

Smart technology works to share data collected by drones, from their bird’s eye view perspective, with the autonomous vehicles on the ground — which then allows the vehicles to act on their own, without the need for human intervention.

Smart cities

It doesn’t stop at buildings and certain construction sites — smart technology is set to transform entire cities, creating incredible webs of information and analytics everywhere. In a similar way to smart buildings, smart cities are designed to monitor systems and citizens while trying the improve the flow of the city, thereby improving general wellbeing.

Many cities across the globe are already turning to smart technology and experimenting with ways that they can improve traffic systems, energy usage, and public safety. Amsterdam, Boston, and Baltimore are three of the forerunners in smart infrastructure, which has so far proved helpful for many things, including ‘smart trashcans’ which can determine the most efficient route for sanitation workers.

These smart technology methods are also being tested on a smaller scale. University campuses, for example, often function as a micro-city would, and are therefore the perfect testing locations for smart city technology. Within a ‘smart campus’, each student’s smartwatch could alert them to their next class, make them aware of library books that need returning, keep you up to date with assignments, and much more.

The future for the construction industry is certainly bright and beginning to mirror everything sci-fi envisioned. Smart technology will allow our infrastructure to reach dizzying new heights, as we embrace a whole new ‘smart’ way of living.

 

Sources:

https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/The_future_of_smart_buildings

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesellsmoor/2019/05/19/smart-cities-the-future-of-urban-development/#24a2917b2f90

https://www.technologyreview.com/2018/03/15/144645/ai-and-drones-are-being-used-to-control-construction-projects/

 

The latest edition of the Economic & Construction Market Review from Barbour ABI has found that the total value of contract awards in January 2021 was £4.3 billion, a decrease of 12% on December 2020 and also 10% lower than the monthly average in 2020 which was £4.8 billion. 

Sector analysis shows that the total value of infrastructure projects reached £500 million in January, which is 57% lower than December 2020. 

The total value of contract awards for industrial were also low compared to recent figures, in January the total value was £600 million which is a decline of 24% compared to December 2020. However, there was significant activity in the warehousing sub-sector. Two of the top four overall contract awards in January were warehouse projects – including the £125 million Next Warehouse in South Elmsall Yorkshire, and the £100 million Uniserve Distribution Centre in Suffolk. 

Planning in January was also strong in the industrial sector with a total of £700 million new approvals. The hotel leisure and sport sector saw exceptional activity with £1.8 billion of approvals – major projects included the £1.3 billion Olympia Redevelopment in London, a £250 million Gateshead Quays Redevelopment in the North East, and the £350 million Manchester Arena project in the North West. 

Commenting on the figures, Tom Hall, Chief Economist at Barbour ABI and AMA Research said, “The planning environment maintained activity in January, continuing its recent trajectory at lower than average levels. Those hoping for a bounce in activity as we leave the EU will be disappointed; clearly the Covid-19 pandemic remains the main factor suppressing activity. Meanwhile it is positive to see some life in the Hotel and Leisure sector with record planning approvals over the last quarter.” 

Download the full report here: https://bit.ly/3aXPIuJ 

The Government recently published its response to the consultation on the Future Homes Standard and the 2021 revision to Part L of the Building Regulations, which now gives the construction industry a clear road-map for the energy efficiency and carbon reduction of buildings through to 2025 and beyond. This is a crucial step towards our zero-carbon future, says Jolyon Berg from CCF.

Jolyon Berg, Head of Technical at CCF (pictured left), explains: “Whilst many in the built environment industry wanted the changes to go further and faster, the changes announced do provide the construction industry and its supply chain with a degree of clarity of the next two steps in Part L of the Building Regulations.”

Mr Berg, continues: “The changes represent a significant reduction in carbon emissions from our new buildings of 31%, in the 2021 Part L revision, and approximately a 75-80% reduction (vs current regulations) in the 2025 revision.  One really positive change in the announcement is that the fabric energy efficiency standard (FEES) will be retained. This signals a welcome ongoing commitment to a fabric first approach, which helps to reduce energy demand in buildings, as well as carbon reduction, and is crucial for our long term zero carbon ambitions.”

Also retained in the 2021 Part L revision is the ability for local authorities to set standards tighter than building regulations; which many already do. Jolyon, says: “This is good news for those authorities that want to go faster in the carbon reduction journey but it does bring challenges in the industry as there will be many standards being built to, across the different regions of the country.”

Mr Berg concluded by saying: “Insulation manufacturers and building product distributors like CCF will need to be ready to support the construction industry to navigate these changes and CCF are committed to providing the technical support to understand how to meet the new standards and whatever regional variations may exist. Building to higher performing fabric is clearly a large part of the plan to achieving a low-carbon future. This is important as, like many in the construction industry, CCF recognises that only by investing in the building fabric can the joint goals of decarbonisation and energy demand reduction be fully realised. The technical team here at CCF are keen to engage with and support our customers on this challenging but crucial journey.”

Lyndon SGB is supplying complex access solutions on one of the largest scaffolding projects in the country,  – the £330 million ‘Our Town Hall’ renovation of Manchester Town Hall, a Grade 1-listed Victorian gothic revival landmark built in 1877.

Main contractor Lend Lease has appointed Lyndon SGB as the scaffolding and access contractor. The contract works include large independent scaffolds, crash decks, a bespoke 90m clock tower scaffold, 34 chimney stacks/saddles and 8,000m2 of temporary roofing weather protection across the site.

More than 50 Lyndon SGB scaffolding operatives will be working on the scaffolding project – currently under strict COVID-19 secure protocols during lockdown.

In addition, as part of the KPI (Key Performance Indicators) for the scaffolding program, a dozen apprenticeships will be launched on the project over the four-year contract. There are already seven apprentices (pictured left) in the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme and in-house training schemes, with three already operational on site and a further four working in the new Lyndon SGB depot in Manchester.

Councillor Nigel Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Creating opportunities for local young people to build firm foundations for future professional careers across a range of trades is a key goal of the Our Town Hall project and will be an important part of its legacy for the city.

“This is a building which has served Manchester for more than 140 years and through this once-in-a-lifetime scheme, it will continue to play an integral role at the heart of our civic life for generations to come.”

Lyndon SGB Managing Director, Stuart Robinson said: “We are incredibly proud to have secured the scaffolding and access provision on this incredibly important national building renovation. Few firms in the UK could have been selected for such an enormous, complex and highly skilled project.”