UK construction blog


Archive for July, 2019

Housing the urban population: solutions for our cites

July 30th, 2019 Comments off

In June, three architecture practices came together with Graphisoft UK, the company behind the BIM software solution, ARCHICAD, for the premiere of Habitation: Reinventing housing for the urban age. The film looks at issues such as urban density, affordable homes and sustainability, and outlines how each architecture practice has offered a solution to these challenges.

Three innovative approaches

Designed by Waugh Thistleton, Watts Grove is an affordable modular scheme of 65 homes for Swan Housing in east London. The project is set to be constructed with cross laminated timber (CLT) panels produced in Swan’s factory in Basildon.

After taking the decision to go modular, Swan commissioned Waugh Thistleton to develop its initial outline scheme based on the architects’ previous experience with CLT schemes.

“One of the reasons Swan have looked towards offsite manufacture is they want to control their supply chain,” explains Kieran Walker, associate at Waugh Thistleton.

The scheme contains 158 modules of 85 different types.

“The important thing to understand about offsite modular construction is that it’s really about repeatable processes and customisable products,” explains Walker. In this way, he adds, “we can get homes much quicker and more cost-effectively, onto more difficult sites.”

While Waugh Thistleton has turned to modular, offsite construction and engineered timber, Chris Bryant, partner at Alma-nac, has embraced a concept that he describes as “urban dentistry”.

“You can look at this idea of urban dentistry as carefully picking apart or adding to what’s there with a sort of surgical precision,” Bryant explains.

Alma-nac has applied this approach to Paxton House; an office to residential conversion in Croydon, south London. Although initially conceived as a build-to-rent scheme, some tenants have since purchased their properties.

Bryant’s team have managed to avoid many of the pitfalls of this type of project by designing dual aspect flats, with living spaces oriented to the south and south west and an access gallery to the north side of the building.

“Most of our work happens in this highly complex urban environment – complex in terms of policy, in terms of the urban fabric, sustainability and the environment,” Bryant concludes. “All of these parameters together set up something where innovation really shines.”

At Brentford Lock West, Mae Architects created an innovative residential scheme of 557 homes on brownfield land.

“A lot of our housing need can be delivered on repurposed sites,” explains Alex Ely, principal at Mae.

However, this does not mean designing and delivering identikit housing devoid of character. Instead, Mae Architects designed the scheme to fit in and reflect the qualities of the surrounding area, while still delivering a dense residential scheme.

“It’s a mixture of responding to the industrial past and then trying to marry that with the human scale of a neighbouring conservation area,” says architect Helen Clark.

This means not only creating a mix of dwelling types, such as townhouses and flats, but also integrating architectural features such as garden walls, front gardens and gable ends.

Such an approach created a mix of housing types while also addressing the need for family housing in outer London.

“We tried to innovate in the project [by developing] a new typology of villas connected by townhouses. The villa plan allows us to create a lot of dual aspect apartments with generous outdoor space and well-lit, generous internal spaces” adds Ely.

Creating homes for all

From reimagining the waterside, to embracing offsite techniques and adapting existing structures, these schemes prove that the challenges of the UK’s housing crisis can be overcome through innovation. Moreover, the urgency of housing need does not have to drive the delivery of knee-jerk, reactionary developments that sacrifice quality and architecture in order to achieve speed.

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Time for change at the GAI

July 29th, 2019 Comments off

Julian Newman has been appointed as the new president of the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI), with a new team of executive officers and a clear agenda for change.

Julian will lead the major new developments currently underway at the GAI and Institute of Architectural Ironmongers (IAI) as part of the One Future Vision initiative.

One Future Vision is the name given to the change programme first proposed three years ago. It was born from concerns among members and the executive teams of both the GAI and the IAI that, in the fast-changing business environment for architectural ironmongers and the construction industry we serve, we were at risk of having much less influence and impact.

Julian is the managing director of Oxford Ironmongery. He started his career in architectural ironmongery as a sales representative with Henderson Hardware, and has taken on a series of roles since then that are all focused on demonstrating the value of architectural hardware and progressing professional standards in the industry.

Julian said:

“While members may not have felt it directly yet, major change is already underway. Next year we will launch a brand new, dynamic organisation that will be the voice of the industry and that will stop at nothing to advocate and advance the membership and industry.

“My aim is to drive the new organisation forward but I want to reassure all members that we won’t be making major changes without consulting them every step of the way.

“I look forward to working with the rest of the GAI team and the executive committee to take the One Future Vision initiative through to a successful conclusion and provide a platform for future industry success.” 

Angie Corkhill, director of the GAI, said:

“Julian brings a wealth of knowledge and experience within the architectural ironmongery industry and to the GAI. His 30 years of commitment to the industry and his dedication to the profession makes him an ideal candidate for the GAI Presidential role at this exciting and pivotal time.”

Other senior appointments confirmed at the GAI’s AGM included Mario Del-Signore, managing director at CES Security Solutions, who takes on the role of GAI Vice President, and Steve Bewick, senior vice president at dormakaba, who becomes the GAI’s Treasurer.

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Importance of House Rendering in Construction

July 26th, 2019 Comments off

Cladding is one of the essential layers of your house because it offers insulation and protection from the elements. Think of cladding as the skin of your house, the protective outer layer which protects and improves your house’s appearance. There are many ways to clad your house,  including bricks, weatherboarding, and vertical tiling,  but by far the most popular and common among them is render.

Rendering 101

By definition, rendering is the utilization of cement to outer or inner brick or concrete walls in order to accomplish a soft and deliberately textured facade. This process is also called solid plastering,  and it is normally carried out by qualified craftsmen. It has been used in Europe for centuries. Rendering works really well for an entire variety of house styles, and there are numerous advantages coming from rendering a house,  from covering up unattractive elements of the facade to remodeling an exterior as a portion of a renovation.

The Application of Render

The standard render formula includes the usage of cement, sand, and water, with the recent addition of lime thrown in a mix. The lime is here because it gives more elastic properties to the render, which then becomes more enduring and less inclined to splitting after it dries. After the render is mixed it is applied in thin, smooth layers over the surface. depending on the preferable texture of the surface,  render can be applied by using a trowel, a brush, a hessian bag or a sponge. The modern versions of render implement various modern materials, such as acrylic products, minerals, polymer, and silicone.

Why Render?

There is plenty of reasons why rendering is beneficial to your property, but it could be boiled down to two main advantages. The first is the protecting aspect, as the cladding protects the underlying walling element from the influences of climate and rainwater invasion. The second one is aesthetically based, as cladding provides an attractive appearance to the house. We will get more on that later. Even if you live in a modern house you should consider rendering, because that’s an investment that pays off momentarily and it will last for decades. However,  rendering is a pretty expensive process, so it is advisable to consider if rendering is really necessary, not only because it is quite costly to put on, but also to remove or replace. Even if you opt for rendering, you have to choose between one of many rendering types, as well as the insulation options.

Aesthetic of Rendering

If the outer walls are the skin of your house, you may consider rendering a facelift. It is surprising to see how previously unsightly buildings can shine after giving them a smooth reskin. Some 50 years ago the favorite render was pebbledash, but from today’s point of view, it looks dated and not very aesthetically pleasing, especially considering that pebbles have a tendency to fall out, which not only made the walls look like a measles victim but also left the outer walls vulnerable to elements. Luckily, thanks to the new technology, it’s possible to undertake quick rendering repairs, which completely remove and replace old and worn-out layers of render with a new one. That is a good way to boost the aesthetic and commercial worth of your residence. 

Rendering Protection

Except for aesthetic values,  the main merit of rendering is its protecting properties. 

The walls made exclusively of bricks have an inclination to get damp, especially if they are bared to the elements over an extended interval of time. Putting an outer layer to the walls keeps the water from entering and prevents this form of damage to occur. This goes for older, brick made residences, the newer ones solve the damp issues with a cavity wall. Except for damp protection, the house rendering also provides some heat insulation. The studies have shown that an average home loses one-third of its heat through uninsulated walls. However, for the full effect, it’s advisable to undertake external solid wall insulation. It is a bit more expensive, but there might be various grants that are available for external insulation, so you might happen to spend less money on rendering with insulation than you would on rendering alone.   


There are multiple reasons why you should provide your residence a render, most obvious being the improvement of your home’s exterior. There’s a stark difference between a rendered and non-rendered building, and there are multiple options of materials, colors, and level of insulation you can choose from. Furthermore, rendering provides enhanced protection against heat loss, water intrusion, and other outer effects. The process requires some investment, but its effects are long-lasting and considerably advantageous to your residence.  

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Employing temporary agency workers – who is responsible for their health and safe-ty?

July 25th, 2019 Comments off

Good news from the construction industry this week, as the number of fatal accidents hit record lows last year.

According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive, there were 20% fewer deaths in the construction industry from April 2018 — March 2019, compared with the same period the year before.

Nevertheless, construction remains the second worst sector in which to work in the UK in terms of workplace injuries (2,620 per 100,000 workers), according to the latest 2017/18 statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

With more than 1.3 million temporary agency workers in the UK considered “vulnerable workers” by the HSE, including around 6.8% placed in the Construction sector by recruitment agencies, being clear about who is responsible for their health and safety on the workplace is crucial for construction business owners. 

Who is employing the agency workers?

The temporary agency workers are employed and paid by the temporary recruitment agencies that place them into temporary work assignments.

Day-to-day however, the temporary agency workers work under the supervision of the hiring company, not the agency.

Who is responsible for their health and safety?

The responsibility for the health and safety of agency workers is shared between the hirer (the company hiring the temporary worker), the recruitment agency and the workers themselves, according to the Health and Safety legislation in place and the UK law regulating recruitment agencies in the UK.

Prior to employing the temporary worker

It is the responsibility of the hirer to clarify what training, qualification, experience and affiliations to specific professional bodies are required for the role. The construction company looking to recruit a temporary member of staff generally shares these requirements in writing, via a job description, or at times, verbally, over the phone, if they’re on a construction site for example. The hirer is also required to communicate to the recruitment agency the known risks to health or safety in the workplace and the steps they’re taking to reduce those.

It is the responsibility of the recruitment agency to ensure that the job-seekers they’re presenting to the hirers meet these requirements. The recruitment agencies are responsible for checking the candidates’ ID papers and qualification documents, ensuring they’re not falsified. They generally meet the job-seekers in person to confirm their identify and proceed to an interview. Prior to submitting the candidates’ profiles to the hirer, the agency needs to share the specific health and safety requirements of the role, as described by the hirer, and to ensure that that job-seekers can meet those (e.g., having a CSCS card or followed an IPAF training to work at height).

Once the temporary worker has started the temporary assignment

Once again, the responsibility is shared.

However, it is the hirer who has the day-to-day responsibility for the health and safety of the temp worker during their assignment, as they have the best knowledge of the workplace and its risks, and as they directly manage the activity of the temporary worker on site (which include the induction period and any specific training required for the role). The health and safety rules that apply to permanent employees also apply to temporary agency workers.

While the main responsibility for health and safety is down to the hirer and the recruitment agency as the ultimate employer of the temporary worker, the worker has also a duty to take care of their own health and safety and that of other members of staff, in line with the health and safety law.

If the recruitment agency becomes aware that the temporary worker is not suitable for the role anymore, by law, they need to inform the hirer and stop the temporary employment contract with the hirer immediately.

If an accident happens on the workplace

If an accident happens, it is the responsibility of the hirer, and more specifically, of the person in control of the premises where the accident happened, to make a RIDDOR report, which can be done online, and to then inform the recruitment agency.

Health and Safety best practices

Here are 3 health and safety best practices for hirers when it comes to hiring temporary agency workers:

  1. Perform regular risk assessments of the workplace and be able to communicate clearly the outcomes of these assessments to the recruitment agency and the temporary construction worker
  2. Clarify and communicate before the start of the assignment how the health and safety responsibilities are shared between the worker, the hirer and the recruitment agency. Ensure that the recruitment agency and hiring company are adequately insured.
  3. Provide adequate training and protective equipment to the temporary worker, especially if they have to operate dangerous machinery, equipment or materials. If English is not the mother tongue of the temporary worker, ensure that they have fully understood the workplace risks. 

This article was written by Caroline Pegden, Director of TempaGoGo, an online aggregator of temporary recruitment agencies with a focus on Construction

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What can construction companies do to improve gender equality?

July 24th, 2019 Comments off

Gender inequality is a long-standing issue that has crept into every industry, and construction is no different. Though many industries have a fairly even ratio of male to female employees at entry level, there are almost always fewer women at the top.

A report from the Directory for Social Change takes a comprehensive look at how imbalanced the gender ratio is in the UK. Using company CSR policies and annual reports, the study was able to determine the gender statistics for 399 corporate boards. An analysis of the data shows that the overall percentage of women on boards was around 22%.

Although small, this number is actually higher than, it was in 2013, where similar reports found that only 13% of board members were women. However, of the remaining 78% of companies, 16% still confess to having purely male board members – excluding women entirely.

Addressing gender inequality and calling for more women in the workplace is more than just trying to fill a quota, it could be the key to a company’s success.

Gender inequality in construction

Much like the tech, science and other STEM industries, the construction industry is still lacking in gender equality and is dominated by men. In 2007, 12.1% of workers in construction was represented by female workers, whereas reports in 2016 showed that statistic only increased slightly to 12.8%.

In fact, a more recent study in 2018 by Wise found that the number of female employees in construction numbered just 11%, meaning the industry could actually be taking a step backwards.

Even in 2019 as a training provider, 3B Training hasn’t seen a huge percentage of women walk through the door for training courses when compared to men. Of nearly 10,000 delegates we have booked on courses so far, only 15% of those are women.

Overlooking female talent

When looking closer at the causes of gender imbalance in construction, a common issue seems to be that female employees aren’t given the same opportunities as their male coworkers.

Randstad interviewed 1,200 people who experienced gender discrimination in the construction industry, 60% of whom were women. Of the women surveyed, three-quarters say they feel overlooked for promotions because of their gender, not their skills.

It’s not just progression where women feel like they’re missing out, either. 8 in 10 women surveyed have felt left out of social events and conversations by their coworkers. This feeling of exclusion risks creating a toxic culture of bias throughout the industry.

Women leaders in construction

Due to the lower number of female workers in construction in general, it’s unsurprising to find that the industry is lacking in women at an executive level or higher. Nearly half of workers went so far as to say that they had never worked with a female manager.

However, that doesn’t mean that the industry would react badly to more female leaders. In fact, Randstad’s study found that 93% of construction workers felt that being managed by a woman would have the same effect as a male manager, or even improve things.

And, according to the data, they’d be right. All 169 companies in the FTSE 350 with at least one woman on their executive board saw a higher return on capital than companies with none.

Hiring from the top down is also a way to create a more inclusive work environment for women at all levels. By having a senior female leader, it sends a message to other female workers that progression is achievable. Companies that opt for a woman as their chief executive are, on average, likely to have more than twice as many women on their executive board than companies run by a man.

As an industry currently suffering from a severe skills shortage, opening the door to talented women in senior roles could be the answer construction is looking for.

Raising awareness

When it comes to women in construction being overlooked, unconscious bias and ignorance play a huge part in the issue.

There are only six construction companies in the UK that have an equal number of male to female directors or are female-led. One of those companies, Renishaw plc, has a board of 70% women and regularly runs engagement programmes with schools, universities and the government to help raise awareness of gender imbalance and overcome stereotypes. If more companies in construction follow suit, the industry can knock down barriers that would otherwise deter potential female candidates.

Multinational human resource consulting firm Randstad has reached out to organisations to find out how they are currently supporting their female staff to help remove gender bias in the workplace:

Addressing the pay gap

Due to the overwhelming male to female ratio until now, the construction industry has been guilty of a wide gender pay gap.

A recent survey conducted by RICS, however, has found that the industry has acted and is making strides to address the issue. Whereas the construction industry had a gender pay gap of 36% in 2018 (one of the worst industries for pay disparity), it has since narrowed to 20.43%.

Although this is a positive result for the industry, more steps are needed before the pay gap is a thing of the past. Nearly half of construction companies not monitoring their gender pay gaps, so it’s difficult to accurately determine how well the industry is dealing with the issue.

By properly analysing and understanding exactly how men and women are paid, as well as being transparent about their pay policies, construction companies can work towards total equality of pay for their workers.

Changing perception and reducing stigma

One of the biggest problems with creating a diverse workforce in construction is that it has developed such a strong perception of what the industry is like, making it hard for people to see past the stereotypes.

Keepmoat conducted a survey on 1,000 adults between the ages of 16-25, looking at the differences in perception of the construction industry. The survey showed that 21% of men interviewed would consider a career in construction, but only 13% of women would do the same.

The prevailing narrative about construction is that it is physically demanding, creating a stigma for employment in construction. Roles in health and safety, construction management, procurement, surveying, estimating and site inspection are all potential routes that are available, yet people may not be aware of them. Only 22% of construction companies work in schools to help to answer questions about the industry and encourage people to consider it as a potential career path.

Strategy for change

To really tackle the issue, a clear strategy needs to be put in place for all construction companies to follow. There are two major steps that companies should take to ensure gender equality in construction:

1. Create more opportunities for women

74% of women in Randstad’s survey were not part of any ‘women in construction’ initiatives that will help them progress to senior positions. This highlights the need for more programmes to help encourage women to get involved, as well as greater advertising that current programmes are available.

Balfour Beatty has taken gender equality into their own hands and has recently introduced an initiative that supports women through career breaks for childcare, urging other companies to work together as an industry to do a similar thing.

2. Provide education early

As we can see from Keepmoat’s survey, education is a real issue in the industry. 29% of female respondents feel like they’d be limited to on-site work and 56% were surprised to find out that a significant number of women in construction are hired at an executive level or higher.

With so many stereotypes around the construction industry, it’s important to educate people early about the potential career opportunities that are available. 64% of respondents claimed they would like construction companies to work closely with schools, colleges and universities. Without the right knowledge, many women will continue to believe that the construction is limited to working on a building site.

Addressing the problems with gender balance in construction may appear like a huge undertaking, but by companies adopting some of the methods we’ve discussed, they are chipping away slowly at the bigger picture – helping to create a pathway to gender equality.

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Considerate Constructors Scheme names winners of 2019 National Ultra Site Awards

July 23rd, 2019 Comments off

The UK’s best-performing Ultra Sites have been revealed at this year’s Considerate Constructors Scheme’s 2019 National Ultra Site Awards ceremony.

Highways England’s A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme Ultra Site was crowned with the highest honour at this year’s awards, winning the coveted ‘2019 Ultra Site of the Year Award’.  

This year, there were a total of ten Ultra Site award categories and, for the first time, the top-performing supplier within six of these award categories were also honoured with a special individual recognition award.

The winning Ultra Sites are:

Client Recognition Award: The National Space Centre, Leicester

Led by contractor: Woodhead Group

Collaboration Award: A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme

Led by contractor: A14 Integrated Delivery Team

Community Engagement Award: The National Space Centre, Leicester

Led by contractor: Woodhead Group

Constructions First Impressions Award: The Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre

Led by contractor: Robertson Construction Group – Major Projects

Environmental Best Practice Award: Highways Partnering Agreement, Term Service Contract, Nottinghamshire

Led by contractor: Tarmac Trading Ltd

Fairness, Inclusion and Respect Award: A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme

Led by contractor: A14 Integrated Delivery Team

Future Constructors Award: Les Quennevais School, Jersey

Led by contractor: ROK Regal Construction

Workforce Wellbeing Award: Smart Motorways Project M23

Led by contractor: Kier Highways

Innovation of the Year Award: The Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre

Led by contractor: Robertson Construction Group – Major Projects

Ultra Site of the Year Award: A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme

Led by contractor: A14 Integrated Delivery Team

The winners of the individual recognition awards for Suppliers are:

Collaboration Award: BDV Recovery Ltd

Community Engagement Award: Munnelly Support Services

Environmental Best Practice Award: Wernick Hire Ltd

Fairness, Inclusion and Respect Award: J L Knight Roadworks

Future Constructors Award: J L Knight Roadworks

Workforce Wellbeing Award: Munnelly Support Services

Hundreds of guests from the UK’s top-performing Ultra Sites gathered at the prestigious venue of Plaisterers’ Hall in central London on 18 July for the Awards ceremony, which was presented by Ann Bentley, the Construction Leadership Council lead on Supply Chain and Business Models.

The aim of Ultra Sites is to achieve ever greater integration of a contractor’s supply chain to meet and exceed the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice. Being the highest level of attainment in consideration and best practice, they are the pinnacle of excellence across the construction industry.

Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Edward Hardy said: “Special congratulations to each award-winning Ultra Site and award-winning Supplier who have set the bar of considerate construction to an exceptional level. Congratulations also to each finalist, whose efforts in driving greater collaboration across their supply chain is commended.

“Ultra Sites represent a real turning point for the construction industry, by providing a way for the industry to work more collaboratively and realise the benefits of this greater integration for their workforce, community and environment. The winners and finalists of these awards range from small scale local projects through to large scale regional multi billion pound projects. This clearly shows how the Ultra Site model can be embraced by any type of construction activity, no matter the size, scale or budget.

“Thank you to everyone involved in making Ultra Sites such a success. We look forward to its continuing growth and development as the model to achieve greater standards in considerate construction throughout the supply chain.”

Click here to view the 2019 Ultra Site Award winners.

To find out more about Ultra Sites, click here.

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July 23rd, 2019 Comments off

Recently, boutique property agency Redwing Living, was joined by Vermont Construction Group and Peel L&P at Princes Dock, to witness the topping out of the £21 million residential development, Plaza 1821.

The first development to reach this stage at Princes Dock as part of Peel L&P’s wider Liverpool Waters regeneration scheme, Plaza 1821 will offer 105 one and two bedroom apartments along with dedicated amenity space on the ground floor.

The scheme is just a stone’s throw away from the Three Graces – the Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building – that give the city its iconic waterfront.

Plaza 1821 is named after the year Princes Dock opened and will be a private rental sector (PRS) development, undertaken by Peel L&P. The development is managed by Redwing Living – a Liverpool-based property company which is a subsidiary of the Regenda Group – and built by contractors Vermont Construction Group.

Darran Lawless, development director at Liverpool Waters part of Peel L&P, said:

“Plaza 1821 is the first of three PRS developments to start on site at Princes Dock and is one of numerous schemes underway a part of the Liverpool Waters masterplan, so this is an incredibly important milestone for us. It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Regenda helping us turn the vision into reality, creating a high-quality residential space with spectacular views of the River Mersey and the surrounding waterfront.

“We look forward to seeing this part of Princes Dock and the wider scheme progress even further over the coming months and years, helping us to create homes, jobs and a new community breathing life back into our historic docklands.”

Fiona Coventry, managing director of Redwing Living, said:

“The topping out ceremony marks a significant moment in the development of this landmark project for Redwing Living and The Regenda Group. 

“The internal designs for Plaza 1821 are fantastic and we are looking forward to seeing the individual apartments and commercial space progress over the coming months.

“Plaza 1821 will be a state-of-the art residential scheme and part of one of Liverpool’s most iconic developments, Liverpool Waters. We are looking forward to welcoming residents in 2020.”

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HLM’s Design Drives Innovation and Creativity at University of Glasgow’s New Learning Hub

July 22nd, 2019 Comments off

HLM Architects, a leading design and architecture company with studios in Glasgow, attended the celebrations held to mark the topping out ceremony for the James McCune Smith Learning Hub at the University of Glasgow.

Attended by students, University representatives and the design and construction teams, the ceremony marked the significant milestone for the £90.6 million project, located on University Avenue. It is the first project which will be completed within the University of Glasgow’s £1 billion Campus Development programme.

HLM Architects were selected to create a stand-out design for the flagship 16640m2 development, providing over 2,500 students with state-of-the-art learning and teaching facilities.

HLM worked collaboratively with the University of Glasgow throughout all design stages to ensure that the University’s ambitious vision for the future education of its students is successfully brought to life. The thoughtful design has been inspired and driven by user-group consultation at every level, emphasising the student experience now and as it will develop in the future. 

A particular focus has been the incorporation of technology and innovation, including a 500-seat lecture theatre, technology-enhanced seminar rooms of various sizes and multi-purpose advanced learning spaces; combining flexible and social areas with reflective study environments. 

The location for the Hub, in the heart of the estate, overcomes the development constraints of the historic Gilmorehill campus, and is a clear statement of intent from the University to its staff and student community. The site will be pivotal in the connectivity across the expanding campus and creates a ‘gateway’ building, providing a sense of arrival for visitors to the University.

The new building is named after abolitionist and medic James McCune Smith – the first African American to be awarded a medical degree, receiving an MD from the University of Glasgow in 1837.

Patrick Clark, Project Lead Consultant at HLM Architects said, “It has been a privilege to lead the design process on the James McCune Smith Learning Hub at the University of Glasgow. We listened to the ambitions of the University and were truly inspired by the user-group consultations; the research we gathered on the student experience was critical to our meaningful design approach. Our aim has been to develop a environment that is open, enjoyable and accessible for all, striving towards a world-leading educational facility for a world-changing University.”

The University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, said, “It’s tremendously exciting to see the progress being made on the James McCune Smith Learning Hub, and I would like to congratulate all our construction partners, on their work to this point.  Once complete, this will be a fantastic new facility, enhancing our world-class learning and teaching credentials, and helping to inspire future generations of students and staff at the University of Glasgow.”

For more information, visit

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SD Sealants launches new painting and decorating service

July 22nd, 2019 Comments off

SD Sealants, one of the largest sealant and finishing groups in the UK, is branching out by launching a new painting and decorating service across both commercial and residential sectors.

As well as it’s highly successful sealant, cosmetic repair and tiling divisions, the company will now provide painting and decorating services for businesses in residential, hospitality, leisure, healthcare and retail industries to name a few.

SD has also strengthened its management team with the appointment of Richard Courtenay, who will be heading up the new department. Richard has over 19 years of experience in the painting and decorating industry, having previously led a large team in the new build and refurbishments subsector.  

Nick Jones, Managing Director, SD sealants said, “We’re really excited about launching this new service as we’ve seen so much demand from customers who want to know if our team can offer painting and decorating to the same high standard that we set for all of our projects.

“With Richard leading on this expansion into a new area of the business, we will now be able to provide our clients with the same market leading service carried out by highly skilled professionals that they’ve come to expect from us.”

Richard Courtenay, Contracts Manager for Painting and Decorating at SD, said: “SD Sealants is already the UK’s leading sealant, repair and tiling specialist, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to build something new within the framework of a long-established stand-out business. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for SD and it’s certainly a bonus to be able to bring more business and recruitment opportunities to the South West.”

Launched in 1973, SD Sealants originated as a family run business in Somerset that specialised in the supply and application of sealant. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength – headquartered in Caldicot, Wales it was become one of the UK’s largest tiling, repairs and sealant companies, with nine offices across England, Scotland and Wales. 

For more information on SD Sealants, visit

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New research suggests UK taxpayers could foot a £19 billion bill because of outdated construction technology

July 19th, 2019 Comments off

New research has unveiled that almost half (44.3%) of businesses in the construction industry have limited or no insight into company or project performance.

The impact of this is significant, as analysis from Mace, a global construction consultancy, found almost 80% of large construction projects experience cost or program overruns and that if project delivery does not improve, the UK taxpayer could left to pick up a tab of around £19 billion in 10 years’ time.

The research conducted by Bentley Systems, the design, construction, and infrastructure software provider, of more than 720 construction professionals across the world also found less than half (43.5%) of workers said they have no digital capabilities for collaboration or that their information is either paper-based or siloed.

With Interserve, one of the largest government contractors in the UK, entering administration recently and the collapse of Carillion in 2018 triggering the largest ever trading liquidation in the UK, the construction industry cannot afford to ignore new technology any longer.

You can download the full report as well as a write up from Mark Coates, Industry Director for Project Delivery at Bentley, here:

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