You will be reading the most recent article that has been published here, such as the one that discusses how, after the building company that was contracted to complete the housing project went out of business, a council in Derbyshire announced that it would take over the project and finish it at its own expense of £36 million. MyLondon also spoke with a construction project director and an architect about the factors that are contributing to the city’s increasingly generic architecture in order to gain further insight into this topic. In addition, the council has reached the conclusion that the underutilised structure that was a component of the Oakfield Project ought to be demolished as soon as possible. In addition, the most recent structure at Tring School, which had been under construction for more than two years and required an expenditure of thirty million pounds sterling, received its official opening yesterday.
Derbyshire council takes over as the building firm closes
Original Source: Derbyshire council steps in as building firm ceases trading
Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire-based Woodhead Construction, was halfway through a four-year contract.
The deal included 400 dwellings in Langwith and Shirebrook and a wellness centre in Creswell.
The council has assumed building contracts.
Woodhead Construction, which employs 150 employees, reportedly made the decision Thursday.
In July, the company said its Bolsover Homes contract was two years old. Only 37 units were built, and 89 were under contract.
The pandemic delayed the building project, a council official said.
The remaining residences are still being designed or planned.
Bolsover District Council leader Steve Fritchley said, “Once we discovered the contractor was closing, we acted quickly to protect our assets.”
We’ve hired current site managers where necessary and are talking to subcontractors to ensure projects proceed.
Why do London’s new homes all look the same?
Something felt familiar about the Blackhorse Road new-build. The brickwork, steel balcony, and double-glazed windows resembled a Croydon or Beckton apartment tower. The structures were similar but had different colours. Acton had a similar development, and Catford had one too.
It doesn’t matter where in London you live, you probably have a new-build project that looks like a dozen others. In architectural circles, this is regarded as “the new London vernacular” or, less favourably, the “biscuit boys” style – the brick-clad new-build housing mania sweeping the capital.
How come all these developments appear the same? MyLondon spoke with a construction project director and an architect.
Unique design vs. reality
Sam Jacob, an architect with his own practice, said that while many of his colleagues dream of creating a radically different building, the practicalities of having a proposal accepted by a developer constrain such aspirations. He claimed brick boxes with metal balconies were the most likely designed to be authorised by authorities.
He told MyLondon, “The planning process is very odd.” If you don’t like danger, take the road of least resistance. Precedent is vital to show both historically and today.
You can say, “Oh, this won’t be that bad because it’s like this one.” I think the London style answers the planning challenge, “How can you develop new things in a mostly ancient city?”
Cash, not strategy, is the fundamental driver, says Jacob. The biggest reason is that buildings are expensive. A developer or local investor takes a big risk. He stated that they seek to reduce risk.
Breaking the mould in tiny ways can produce tension with other project stakeholders who want to reduce risk or cost. – Jacob If you do odd things, you must justify them. You must provide client and planner reasons. “If it’s odd, you must convince the contractor that they can build it or pay three times as much.”
The larger the project, the less an architect wants to experiment. Going out on a limb with an untested design might damage a firm.
As Jacob stated, “You spend so much effort on practical matters that taking a big risk and trying something unusual is too much.” You don’t want your developer clients to see you doing that because they’ll find someone who eliminates risk.
Could you standardise that?
Even if architects add bespoke touches, developers often remove them before construction begins. Peter Lynch, a project director with experience of creating huge complexes in London, says architectural characteristics should be standardised so they may be duplicated from project to project.
Large housebuilders and developers need to acquire materials in quantity. More and more, factory-made components are assembled instead of built on-site.
Behind the bricks of many new buildings is a secret. Facades aren’t made of clay slabs layered with cement. The brick exterior is a factory-made panel bolted with steel fittings or glue.
The modular construction technique currently applies to many parts of a development. Pre-welded balconies and bathroom ‘pods’ are craned in together with the bolted-together brickwork. Such approaches are faster and require fewer personnel.
“When buying toilet pods for a project, restrict the number of permutations,” Lynch said. In a factory, pods of any shape and size can be made. But if you can standardise the same pod going into the same hole and create 900 of them, you can save money. The manufacturers will give you a cheaper price if you standardise, because economies of scale are maximised.
He said, “Often architects will incorporate customised design inputs, and the customer will say ‘oh, no, that’s too expensive to build that way. Can you standardise it?’ It’s easier to make. The modular approach is essentially plug-and-play, reducing costs. A business erecting factory-made balconies installed 46 in one day.
Lack of craftsmen
Standardisation and modularization aren’t merely cost-driven. Britain doesn’t have as many bricklayers or roofers as it used to. Foreign migrant labour has propped up London’s building industry for decades, but since Brexit, they’ve left.
“No transactions,” Lynch said. London has many self-employed Eastern Europeans. Brexit deterred many from returning and new Europeans from coming because of immigration standards. COVID caused many to leave and not return. Multiple grants were awarded to self-employed men, but they spent the money and won’t return it.
Then there’s London property. The price per square foot is as high as anywhere in the world, encouraging developers to pack as many apartments as possible into a structure. Foreign buyers of investment apartments they’ll never visit or live in don’t care if the unit looks like others. Uniqueness isn’t a priority for UK citizens due to strong housing demand. Developers can maximise revenues in such a market. If it passes planning, people will buy it.
“Architects are told to develop something functional and buildable within the minimum square meterage.” In inner London, they go for the minimum, not the most. It all depends on a scheme’s profitability, said Lynch.
Demolition of Oakfield Campus building
Original Source: Abandoned Oakfield Campus building to be demolished
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Marlowe Avenue building has been unoccupied.
Nationwide has clearance to build 238 sustainable houses on the university site it sits on.
Swindon Borough Council set up a fund in acknowledgement of Nationwide’s involvement in the area to redevelop the Oakfield Project building or other council-owned community assets.
Local neighbours said they wanted a community area at a November consultation.
But the council felt the current abandoned building wasn’t fit.
“The prospect of renovating the Oakfield Project building, which has been empty since the epidemic, has been studied, but growing construction prices and the building’s bad state make this proposal too expensive,” a spokesperson said. So, the building is being dismantled.
Instead, the council will invest in other council-owned assets in the area and notify adjacent residents when it finds worthwhile targets.
The council is also considering building a few supported living or social housing apartments there.
Gary Sumner, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, transport, and planning, said: “We received really wonderful input from residents following the consultation events at the end of last year.”
“It was evident from these meetings that locals wanted a communal area as part of the Oakfield development.” Council officers have been working with the local parish council and nationwide to bring these amenities forward.
Our preferred choice was to renovate the current Oakfield Project building, but it’s in terrible shape and inflation has made the cost exorbitant. We will explore if other council-owned communal assets in the area can be considered for the fund.”
The neighbourhood became a “ghost town” when Nationwide’s contractor, Mi-space went bankrupt, halting housing construction.
In July, Lovell Partnerships Ltd. was hired.
Tom Allen launches a £30m Tring School building
Tom Allen opened Tring School’s newest facility yesterday after more than two years of development and a £30 million investment.
At the inaugural ceremony, Tom joked about his school days before cutting the Dobberson Building ribbon.
Sally Ambrose, head of school, addressed the school, saying, “Our new Dobberson Building is now complimented by a rebuilt Desborough Building, providing a school fit for the 21st century.”
Sue Collings, CEO of Ridgeway Learning Partnership, thanked Tring School’s business director, Rod Gibberd.
Olivia Preston was shown around the school by Rod, who explained what the multimillion-pound investment means for pupils and staff.
The new 140-space parking lot was completed on the location of Tring School’s former main building.
A few feet away is a sustainable and modern school with views of the Chilterns and Ashridge Estate from the second floor.
The Dobberson building, named after a 39-year teacher, is equipped with fingerprint scanning and climate control and is designed to bring the outside in.
Each of its 1550 pupils has a locker in the wide hallways, all painted in unique colours to help them navigate the new, enormous structure.
In 2014, Rod led a campaign to remove an obsolete facility and replace it with modern classrooms for students and faculty.
We wanted to make the school’s design terrific, then exceptional, stated Rod.
In March 2020, when the UK entered its first coronavirus lockdown, contractors demolished Tring School. Two years later, Desborough Hall, a building that wasn’t demolished, was rebuilt to the same standard as Dobberson.
The dining hall, where all students eat, is the school’s heart.
The project spent £250,000 on interactive touchscreens and whiteboards to facilitate a smooth transition between classrooms.
New facilities at Tring School include a kiln and an expanded sports hall.
Using the school’s own money, the new building includes a room for pastoral care with a full-time counsellor and chaplain.
Tring School wanted this to ensure no child slipped under their notice.
Rod said, “We want to teach the whole child.”
Even the restrooms have been redesigned for the students. Staff asked students what they wanted, and the school now has gender-neutral bathrooms.
Despite the pandemic, Brexit concerns, and HGV driver strikes, the school is complete, with only a small piece of the parking lot to be finished.
The building’s namesake, Andrew Dobberson, remarked after the ceremony, “It’s a wonderful building, it’s everything we’ve ever dreamed of.”
“Will I miss it?” asked the retired instructor of his time at the school and work on the eight-year project. Yes. “
Summary of today’s construction news
In today’s construction news, Steve Fritchley, the leader of the Bolsover District Council, was quoted as saying, “Once we discovered the contractor was closing, we responded quickly to protect our assets.” In the areas where it was essential to do so, we have employed current site managers, and we are in the process of communicating with subcontractors.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t matter where in London you reside because chances are that your neighbourhood has at least one new-construction project that is identical to a dozen others. This style is known as “the new London vernacular” or, less favourably, the “biscuit boys” style. Both names refer to the brick-clad new-build housing frenzy that is sweeping the capital.
As for the destruction of the Oakfield Campus buildings, the surrounding neighbourhood was turned into a “ghost town” after the contractor working for Nationwide, Mi-space, declared bankruptcy, which halted the development of new homes.
Over and above that, before cutting the ribbon on the Dobberson Building during the inaugural ceremony, Tom made some jokes about his time spent in school. The Dobberson building, which is named after a teacher who spent 39 years in the field, features fingerprint scanning technology and climate management, and it is designed to make the most of its proximity to the outdoors.