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Google gets green light for £1bn King’s Cross HQ

September 1st, 2017 Comments off

Internet giant Google has been given the green light by planners to build its new £1bn headquarters at King’s Cross in London.

google-hq-news-architecture-offices-london-big-heatherwick-_dezeen_hero-b

Camden Council’s planning committee approved the deal last night.

Main contractor Lendlease will start on site next year on a contract believed to be worth around £350m.

The 11-storey building will be more than one million square feet of which Google will occupy 650,000 sq ft.

The Google HQ building, designed by Heatherwick Studios and BIG, in collaboration with BDP, will be home to 4,000 Googlers on completion.

Thomas Heatherwick said: “Strong support for an ambitious building in an important part of the city is more proof that London is not afraid of its future.

“We’re excited to start building.”

Neil Martin, Manging Director of Lendlease’s Construction business in Europe, said: “With our global construction experience, we are confident this will be as distinctive as everything else Google does.”

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Second cladding system gets fire test ‘all clear’

August 25th, 2017 Comments off

The first cladding system using PIR solid foam insulation has passed the Government’s stringent fire tests in the wake of London’s Grenfell disaster.

fire test
Aluminium cladding using a limited combustibility filler (A2) and PIR foam insulation boards passes BRE large-scale fire test

It is the second cladding system to pass the large-scale fire test giving the industry a clear insight into which systems meet Building Regulation performance guidance.

The latest test results now suggest that PIR insulation can be fitted to a high-rise building, but only when used with aluminium composite material cladding using a ‘limited combustibility’ (stone) filler.

So far no high-rise buildings have been registered with the Government as having this particular combination of materials.

The Government’s testing body is carrying out a total of seven tests incorporating each of the three common types of aluminium cladding material panel, using either core filler materials of unmodified polyethylene (PE), fire retardant polyethylene (FR), or limited combustibility mineral (A2).

These are being tested in combination with two insulation materials – rigid polyisocyanurate (PIR) foam or non-combustible stone wool. The seventh test, recently added to the testing programme, will examine the performance of commonly-used phenolic foam board with ACM with a fire resistant filler (A2).

Designers and contractors will be eagerly awaiting this result, in particular.

With just one other test result due in for what is the least combustible combination of elements a picture is now emerging of which cladding systems meet the Building Regulations.

Cladding system tests Result 18m-plus buildings
ACM with unmodified polyethylene filler with PIR foam insulation Failed 82
ACM with unmodified polyethylene filler (PE) with mineral wool insulation Failed 111
ACM with a fire retardant polyethylene filler (PE) with PIR foam insulation Failed 13
ACM with fire retardant polyethylene filler (FR) with mineral insulation Passed 13
ACM with a limited combustibility filler (FR) with phenolic foam insulation Not published N/A
ACM with a limited combustibility filler (A2) with PIR foam insulation Passed 0
ACM with a limited combustibility filler (A2) with mineral wool insulation Not published N/A

 

Findings so far suggest that at least 206 buildings over 18m in height that have been reported to the Government will need to be reclad.

Unmodified polyethylene filled ACM cladding, like that used on the Grenfell tower, fails Building Regulation requirements.

An aluminium cladding system using fire retardent polyethylene filler (FR) could be used, but only when installed in conjunction with mineral wool insulation and not PIR foam board.

ACM cladding using limited combustibility filler (A2) can be used with PIR foam insulation boards.

A cladding industry source said: “These results must be welcomed because they bring some clarity to what systems comply with Building Regulation requirements.

“But the use of the terminology used by manufacturers around combustibility of fillers used in aluminium cladding needs to be addressed to end market confusion.”

Another added: “The importance of these tests are that we can finally move forward with confidence in the industry.

“What is disappointing is BRE’s obsession with ACM. They have to start carrying out the same testing on other products, high pressure laminate, for example.”

Even with the latest test information the Government still advises that building owners need to continue to take professional advice regarding remedial work that takes into account the specific circumstances of their building.

The way materials have been fitted and maintained can also affect the safety of the cladding system.

Last month the government announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety, focussed on the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management as well as related compliance and enforcement issues.

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What’s next for college leavers this A Level results day?

August 16th, 2017 Comments off

On the 17th August, teenagers up and down the country will receive their long-awaited A-Level results. Results day will come as a huge relief for most college leavers after the months of waiting. The day will mark a new phase of their lives; a phase no longer dictated by textbooks and strict curriculums.

 

Young people receiving their results this year have more options than ever before when it comes to choosing a career path. The choice between applying for a job, internship, apprenticeship or going on to further education can be quite a task in itself though.

 

Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular and appealing and offer a unique opportunity to combine practical training with study, thereby enabling young people to get the much needed and sought after, experience, but also the tangible qualifications, readying them for future career opportunities.

 

According to Gov.uk, over 90% of apprentices currently go into work or further training. This high percentage almost certainly stems from the fact that apprenticeships provide individuals with the relevant skills, energy and commitment required for full-time employment.

 

Workplace specialists and design and fit-out firm, Active, has taken on numerous apprentices since they were founded in 1999. Jennie Armley started as a marketing apprentice with Active in 2015, after completing the programme last summer, she was taken on as a full-time marketing coordinator.

 

Armley said “I was keen to get some experience early of working within marketing and Active offered me just that – I could deal with real business problems and continue to learn at the same time. I was convinced it was a better opportunity for me than going to university and it certainly has been!”

 

Adrian Powell, director at Active, said, “The services sector is a great place for apprentices to be able to explore the right career path for them. There is ample room for growth both personally and professionally, as people can move up quickly within their chosen speciality. I would encourage young people receiving their results this week to explore all the options available to them before embarking on the next chapter.”

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INNOVATION – A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

August 14th, 2017 Comments off

There is no doubting the fact that we are living in a global economy and that we are all going through an intense period of change. For many of us, our focus is on our immediate vicinity and surroundings and the issues that affect our customers and business operations. However, there are a number of fundamental issues that affect and drive us all, the world over – financial stability, safety, environmental concerns etc. One area that can directly affect these issues, and more, is innovation.

For most manufacturers, innovation is a critical factor that is equated to their success. It builds competitive advantage and in turn financial stability. It can also improve environmental performance and health and safety, criteria that are at the very heart of many businesses’ operational ethos.

In many instances, product innovation is developed at a local level, often as a result of customer demand or identification of an opportunity. Some innovations are developed at a global level but this poses great challenges with regards to local interpretation, market need, performance expectations and regulation differences. Factors that drive product specification can greatly differ from one country to another, due to issues such as legislation, climate, culture and infrastructure.

As a leading manufacturer of products working across multiple industry sectors (seehttp://bit.ly/2o8Ca6Z) Sika has a robust – and shared – approach to product innovation. The company has created a number of Global Technology Centres. These centres are design to drive product innovation at both local and global level. The UK centre, based at Sika’s Head Office in Preston focusses on liquid applied membranes and coatings, utilising the vast experience that Sika UK has within this field.

Whilst developing products for the UK market, the centre can call upon global market intelligence and the resources of the rest of the group. This helps to advance product development within a network that has the ability to share outcomes and successes around the world, often in turn helping to drive other innovations.

In so doing, Sika is able to leverage the benefits of both centralised and decentralised approaches to Research and Development, responding to local market and customer demands and sharing this advancement around the world. For organisations such as Sika, successful innovation results from the inter-connected nature of broad knowledge networks and the sharing of know how within these networks.

A great example is the recent development of extremely low odour, liquid roof waterproofing systems. Conventional products have traditionally contained significant quantities of organic solvents that can lead to significant odours during application. This can lead to risks of disruption occurring when used on live sites such as hospitals and schools.

Through the development of new technologies, Sika UK developed an ultra-low odour system that established new benchmarks in performance. Drawing upon its significant expertise and longstanding involvement in the UK roofing market, UK developers worked collaboratively with colleagues in Zurich to pioneer and patent novel curing compounds, commissioned specialist manufacturing equipment and worked in close partnerships with colleagues overseas to support successful market introductions across Europe and the US.

As a global brand, Sika has the ability to deliver local innovations on a global basis. To find out more about the impact Sika are making every day, visit http://gbr.sika.com/en/group/about-us/sika-everyday.html

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Gilbert-Ash Awarded British High Commission Project in Ghana

August 10th, 2017 Comments off

West Africa project is latest for UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

26th July 2017: Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor, Gilbert-Ash, has been awarded a fit out project on the British Embassy in Accra, Ghana.

Set to commence in August 2017, it is the latest international project by Gilbert-Ash for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) with work undertaken in a total of 41 countries worldwide to date.

Ghana is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the UK’s fourth largest export market in Sub-Saharan Africa. The UK is a key partner to Ghana and is committed to advancing continued economic development in the country.

The fit out project, the first by Gilbert-Ash in Africa, includes interior and exterior refurbishment of British Embassy facilities in the capital city.

A key aspect of the close to £400,000 project includes fitting and reinforcement of new enhanced windows and doors in key embassy buildings.

Andrew Whitten, General Manager, Gilbert-Ash Fit Out said: “Ghana is a modern, dynamic country and one of the UK’s longest-standing and strongest partners in Africa. As with all our projects for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, it is critical that the fit out of the British High Commission is completed to the highest standards showcasing UK excellence in design, construction, materials and innovative technologies.

We will be working closely with local Ghanaian companies and so far, our team have been very impressed by the level of commitment provided across the local supply chain for this prominent project. We look forward to playing a small part in transferring some new skills that we hope will also benefit and bolster the growing local construction industry in Accra.”

Over the last decade, Gilbert-Ash has undertaken a broad range of projects in partnership with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to refurbish and refit British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions around the world. Often in environmentally challenging and culturally diverse locations, the company’s fit out team are highly skilled in delivering the highest quality projects on an international scale. To meet high specification standards befitting the UK’s leadership in design and construction, Gilbert-Ash ships many of its fit out materials around the world.

Andrew Whitten added: “With each project we develop for the FCO, we are acutely aware that the High Commissions, Embassies and Consulates represent the ‘public image’ of the UK. We therefore think of the work we do as being a ‘showcase’ for British skills overseas, so we really give the projects everything, both through a sense of company pride and of national pride.”

Working with its strong UK supply chain network, the company recently commissioned the manufacture of the bespoke windows for the British Embassy project in Accra with manufacturing, packing and shipment within a four week timeframe.

With Ghana’s tropical climate, the Gilbert-Ash Fit Out team will be working to complete the project in 12 weeks in challenging 34°C temperatures.

The leading construction company has specialist fit out expertise in a range of sectors including workplace, retail, leisure and restoration. For more information on Gilbert-Ash visit www.gilbert-ash.com

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Post Grenfell: UK Construction Week to offer definitive safety courses

August 7th, 2017 Comments off

In light of recent tragic events, UK Construction Week, the leading event for the construction and building sector has taken the most positive step possible by launching free unbiased, factual workshops to anyone working in the industry. These free, one hour CPD-certified sessions – taking place from 10 – 12 October at the Birmingham NEC – will address the specification and use of products from the viewpoint of safety, quality and fire prevention in buildings to ensure that all participants are given the most up-to-date advice and guidance on the main issues affecting the built environment following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.

 

These topics have been under intense public scrutiny at a national level, and whilst Grenfell will change the construction industry forever, companies must come to terms with the fact that ‘doing enough’ is no longer good enough. Our industry has a responsibility for the safety of every user or inhabitant of every building in the UK and with an ever-zealous media looking to apportion blame, and the threat of prosecution and prison now a stark reality, these workshops will ensure that our industry is completely informed with the latest views, findings and legislation.

 

Earlier this month UK Construction Week issued a survey which received over 1000 responses from construction professionals. This survey asked them to identify the professional bodies they want the most up-to-date guidance from; the type of products and services that are now a priority for on-going and future projects; and how the industry can learn from this terrible event and move forward. The survey results have shaped a series of workshops, which will seek to clarify the latest advice and guidance for the industry. Topics include:

 

Building Regulations – an update and interpretation

Fire Prevention – guidance on sprinklers, fire doors, dampening

Flammable Building Materials – looking at cladding and other materials and latest advice

Health & Safety – knowing your responsibilities and up to date guidance on the latest legislation

Improving Safety through Technology

 

Nathan Garnett, Event Director, said, “In light of recent tragic events in London, and the fact that there are millions of square metres of building space being refurbished, refitted  and built right now, the industry must act swiftly to decipher the latest guidance and advice by separating the facts from the fiction. By collaborating with the authorities and professional bodies, we at UK Construction Week have responded with a series of free, CPD certified workshops to address the latest issues and provide the facts from people the industry knows and can trust.”

 

Available to any companies involved in the specification or use of products or services in construction or who are responsible for Health and Safety in commercial or residential buildings, the show is offering completely free subsidised places on the workshops. Due to the expected high demand, places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

 

For more information and free registration visit www.ukconstructionweek.com or contact info@ukconstructionweek.com

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Graduation Day honours for Survey School’s 2017 top achievers

August 4th, 2017 Comments off

A record number of graduates of the TSA Surveying Course were commended for their commitment and hard work at The Survey School’s annual ceremony and presentation, held at Worcester Racecourse.

From the intake of 35 students, ten achieved distinctions and 13 submitted a total of 26 assignments judged to be of A-A+ grade, in terms of technical knowledge and professional presentation.

The recipients of the Best Student, Best Assignment and TSA Vice-President’s Award were also announced.

Jointly sponsored by The Survey Association (TSA) and Leica Geosystems, the Best Student Award went to Paul Cross of Sterling Surveys, who gained an outstanding overall mark of 94 per cent.

Paying tribute to the winner, John Fraser of Leica Geosystems, said, ‘’The award for Best Student is a real achievement, with students required to return, not only high marks in all areas, but to act in a professional and dedicated way throughout the course. Paul is a very worthy winner.’’

For the second successive year the Vice-President’s Award was given to a student graduating from the TSA Surveying course. This year’s recipient was Jacob Sharples of Site Vision Surveys Ltd.

TSA Vice-President, Nick Hampson said that all graduating students should be commended for meeting the high standards required to pass.

Nick added, ‘’A number of candidates achieved high marks over the last two years but Jacob’s consistent professionalism made him really stand out.’’

Declan Meban from WYG Group was presented with the prize for Best Assignment by Harry Bell, President of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES).

The Survey School is recognised by industry and employers as the UK’s premier commercial training centre for the education of land surveyors.  TSA Surveying Course 46 starts on 25 September 2017 and Course 47 on 20 November 2017. For full details on these and shorter technical courses on specific topics, see the School’s website. www.surveyschool.org.uk

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SIKA RANGE KEEPS CONCRETE STABLE – WHATEVER THE WEATHER

August 2nd, 2017 Comments off

The mini-heatwave that settled upon many parts of the UK in June provided a welcome reminder that hot, sunny weather wasn’t necessarily the preserve of our compatriots across the continent. Sweltering temperatures, however pleasant they might be for camels or ice cream vendors, do not make ideal building conditions, particularly when it comes to concreting.

For concrete to be placed and finished correctly, it needs to remain workable. In hot weather, moisture is drawn from the mixture more quickly, which can lead to it setting too rapidly for the user’s requirements. For instance, a 300mm-thick slab requires two loads of concrete to fill a mould.

Timings are tight, and it’s not unknown for the first load to set before the second load is even delivered – particularly during hot weather. It only takes the second delivery load to be delayed by traffic, for example, for the process to fail. Fresh cement that’s poured onto an already-set and compacted base can lead to cold joints and unevenness.

Fresh loads of cement should knit together to form one homogenous mass. For this to happen – concrete generates its own heat, so climatic conditions are only part of the hydration issue – it helps if the setting process is decelerated. Here’s where the availability of a product range such as Sikatard is such a huge benefit.

Sikatard is an admixture in liquid form developed for the control of cement hydration. It coats the cement particles to prevent infusion and slow the drying-out process. This ensures the concrete mix is stabilised and prevents its setting for hours or even days. Sikatard, which conforms to the requirements of BS EN 934-2 Table 8, can also be used in steel reinforced concrete construction without restriction. Its stabilising properties ensure the distribution of stresses throughout the reinforcement encapsulated in the concrete isn’t compromised.

Sika PilePak is another product proven to eliminate moisture escape from concrete. Its use during cast in situ concrete piling projects eases steel reinforcement fitting. Sika PilePak acts as a thickening agent which helps retain moisture within the concrete’s cement paste. It’s added to the concrete during batching then delivered to site.

Dry or gravel-based ground absorbs water from cement like a sponge, making steel reinforcement insertion incredibly difficult, which could affect the concrete, and ultimately, the infrastructure’s stability. Sika PilePak ensures consistency and workability of the concrete over a prolonged period of time, helping avoid any concrete problems at any one pile position.

With the government announcing a total of 250,000 new homes are needed annually to keep pace with demand, speed is key to developers helping fulfil this requirement without compromise to safety or quality. Thankfully, in Sika PilePak and the Sikatard range, the industry has the products with which to build a stable base to help meet our future housing needs – however hot the weather.

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New appointment to the Association of Noise Consultants Board

August 1st, 2017 Comments off

Increasing training opportunities in acoustics and continuing to develop professional standards are among the key priorities for Anne Budd following her election to the board of the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC).

Anne joins the leadership team after being appointed at the trade association’s AGM – and is the first woman to be elected to the board in its 45-year history.

 

Throughout her career, which spans 21 years in the acoustics sector, Anne has played an active role in the industry.

 

She is a member of the Institute of Acoustics’ Building Acoustics Group, the Acoustical Society of America and the Women’s Engineering Society.

 

In her position on the ANC Board, Anne is particularly keen to give a voice to the small acoustic consultancy members located in the regions.

 

Anne said: “During my time on the board I hope to represent the voice of the micro-acoustic consultancy.

 

“We face very different challenges to the larger SMEs and multi-disciplinary – in some cases multi-national – firms based closer to the capital, in areas including recruitment and in developing training and education opportunities.

 

“I am looking forward to working with the other members of the ANC board on this and other industry matters over the coming years.”

 

Anne, a BEng Electroacoustics graduate from the University of Salford, started her career in 2000 at Bruel & Kjaer’s headquarters in Copenhagen, where she was an application specialist for the electroacoustics team and product manager for the ear and mouth simulators.

 

In 2002 she joined Professor Bridget Shields’s team at London South Bank University as a research assistant, investigating room acoustics in classroom environments and their effects on children and teachers.

 

Anne’s career then took her north in 2005 to Scotland where, six months after joining New Acoustics consultancy based in Clydebank, she became a director of the company.

 

Today Anne is the company’s majority shareholder, and is responsible for all aspects of its technical work and administration.

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GALVANIC ANODES OFFER 21st CENTURY SOLUTION TO AGE-OLD CONTAMINATION

July 28th, 2017 Comments off

The seaside is known to do wonders for a person’s health, but it does nothing for the long-term wellbeing of buildings. The main cause of deterioration of reinforced concrete structures is the corrosion of embedded steel, particularly when exposed to chlorides found in sea water and airborne salts. This impacts on buildings within marine environments such as jetties, ports and bridges.

Reinforced concrete structures are built to last and can generally expect to have a lifespan of about 50 years. However, in areas of chloride ingress the rate of corrosion increases, as does the need for repairs to maintain the buildings. Without professional treatment, a concrete’s surface can crack and spall.

This is caused by passivating iron oxides, which protect the steel reinforcement, being destroyed by chlorides in air and water. The resulting surface debilitation could potentially weaken the structure and leave it vulnerable to serious deterioration – even collapse. This is particularly pertinent to public infrastructure such as bridges, which could be subject to lengthy and costly repairs funded by already cash-strapped local authorities. In such instances, people’s daily lives might also be severely disrupted.

The same applies to jetties, which serve vital aesthetic and operational purpose for marinas and nearly 100 sea ports across the UK. They also offer frontline sea defence, but bear the brunt of chloride’s invasive effects on account of being situated in tidal zones or splash areas.

 

Sacrificial efficiency

Sika was recently selected to supply a concrete repair and total corrosion management system (TCM) to the underside of a dockside quay that had displayed signs of corrosion due to chloride contamination. Sika® Galvashield® galvanic, sacrificial anodes, which are proven to provide long-term protection to high chloride environments, were installed as part of the refurbishment.

The sacrificial anodes, comprising a zinc core encased in a small, cementitious shell, are installed within repair sites to prevent incipient anodes developing, or outside repaired sites to protect the reinforcement in chloride-infused concrete. Easily fastened to exposed steel reinforcement – or into cored and grouted holes in the concrete outside the repair site – the anode’s zinc core corrodes sacrificially to protect the surrounding rebar and prevent formation of new corrosion sites adjacent to repairs. This sacrificial zinc approach is similar to protecting oil rigs & hulls of ships.

All-in-one solution

As there is no need for an external power source, Sika’s galvanic systems are a popular choice for effective, low maintenance corrosion mitigation. Unlike other manufacturers, Sika provides repair materials and coatings as part of a total corrosion management package, because as well as supplying the anode, we provide repair materials and coatings. Once repairs have been carried out to all parties’ satisfaction, we will guarantee the repair system for up to 20 years – an offer unique to Sika.

Galvanic anodes have revolutionised the treatment of chloride-contaminated concrete. It’s a system that is ingenious in its simplicity and effectiveness; eradicating the need for costly, time-inefficient and energy-consuming shot-blast methods of corrosion removal. The anode system is a smart 21st century solution to an age-old problem. It means our weathered, waterfront buildings can stand protected – ‘the seas shall not have them’.

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