Learn About the Latest News on Callington Affordable Dwellings, Neath Port Talbot’s Bay Technology Centre, Hanson UK Promotes Net-Zero, and Ombú, Madrid: a Unique Fosters Building

In today’s news, we will look into the construction of Callington’s low-cost housing which was started by the Council. At the BCI Awards, the energy-positive Bay Technology Centre developed by the Neath Port Talbot Council was recognised as the Commercial Property Project of the Year. At Padeswood, Hanson UK is pushing for a net zero plan. And the Ombú warehouse in Madrid, which was renovated by Foster + Partners, now has 10,000 square metres of carbon-neutral office space.

The council builds Callington affordable dwellings

Original Source: Council begins construction on Callington affordable homes

The first inhabitants of Cornwall Council’s 15 new affordable Callington dwellings are due to move in late 2023.

10 council-owned and 5 privately owned 1959 residences are being replaced in Urban Terrace. The properties were demolished when Mundic made them structurally unstable.

4 one-bedroom flats, 7 two-bedroom houses, and 4 three-bedroom houses with gardens and parking will be built. All residences will be well-insulated and heated using air source heat pumps.

The programme will involve landscaping, tree planting, and bee bricks and bird boxes to boost biodiversity.

Olly Monk, Cornwall Council’s housing and planning portfolio holder, stated, “We’re delighted to start creating these affordable houses for locals.”

“We wanted to start building more homes once planning approval was granted.” The previous contractor’s bankruptcy delayed this.

Classic Builders’ appointment allows us to move forward with this wonderful project, and I look forward to welcoming residents to their new homes late next year.

“It’s terrific to see construction finally begin on this long-awaited development,” said Cornwall Councillor Andrew Long, who represents Callington.

People who resided in the original Council-owned properties will get first dibs on the new ones.

Classic Builders’ David Pengelly said, “We are committed to producing safe and environmentally-conscious homes in Cornwall. We are very delighted to have been awarded to undertake this vital project for Cornwall Council and to help local people return to new, improved homes.”

With sustainable energy sources and excellent levels of insulation, these new homes will be safe, secure, and healthy.

The College’s Urban Terrace exit will remain open during construction, with the Council’s roads staff working closely with the College and Callington Town Council to minimise disturbance.

Cornwall Council prioritises housing issues.

The council is also striving to:

  • Provide modular dwellings for temporary and emergency housing so locals don’t have to worry about getting evicted.
  • Buy houses for social housing
  • Support housing organisations’ provision of affordable homes to rent or buy.
  • Planning affordable dwellings on sites
  • Redevelop town centres to give more dwellings.
  • Help community-led groups build their own homes
  • Provide loans to repurpose abandoned dwellings
  • Stop second-home buyers from buying new construction.

Another prize for Neath Port Talbot’s Bay Technology Centre

Original Source: Another award for Neath Port Talbot Council’s energy positive Bay Technology Centre

Bay Technology Centre won Commercial Property Project of the Year at the BCI Awards.

The yearly awards, judged by industry professionals at London’s Grosvenor Hotel, recognise remarkable achievements in construction, including architectural and engineering design, the construction process, and on-time, on-budget delivery.

Bay Technology Centre in Neath Port Talbot’s Baglan Energy Park produces more energy than it consumes, experts found.

This building embraces passive characteristics, integrates photovoltaic cells into facades, and achieves construction efficiency through cloud-based modelling and data exchange.

Morgan Sindall was the council’s major contractor, working with IBI Group (architecture), Hydrock (engineering design), and The Urbanists (landscape architectural services). FP Hurley & Sons, CMBE Electrical, and Central Cladding contributed.

The Neath Port Talbot Council-commissioned building in one of Wales’ prime business and industrial sites has two tenants and more on the way.

The BCI award is the third for the recently finished Bay Technology Centre. It won the CEW Net Zero Award and the Insider Wales Property Sustainability Award.

Cllr Jeremy Hurley, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Wellbeing, said: “We’re happy our new energy-positive facility at Baglan Energy Park has been globally recognised.”

“Thanks to the contractors involved, Neath Port Talbot Council recognises the urgency of climate change.”

This energy-positive building is part of our DARE (Decarbonization and Renewable Energy) strategy.

McCann & Partners, one of the two new tenants of the Bay Technology Centre, said, “Congratulations to Neath Port Talbot County Council and everyone involved.”

“We’re pleased to start a new chapter in a sustainable building.” This move strengthens our commitment to decarbonization and energy efficiency while giving our team state-of-the-art facilities to develop.

The Bay Technology Centre was partially sponsored by the ERDF, Welsh Government, and UK Government through the £58.7m Supporting Innovation and Low Carbon Growth Programme, part of the $1.8bn Swansea Bay City Deal regional investment initiative.

Hanson UK promotes net-zero at Padeswood

Original Source: Hanson UK pushes net zero plan at Padeswood

The construction materials company intends to invest £400m in a North Wales carbon capture facility.

The scheme is undergoing consultation before a planning application.

Hanson called it a “groundbreaking initiative for the global cement industry” and the first carbon-captured cement plant in the UK.

It’s part of HyNet’s decarbonization cluster.

Under CCS, carbon dioxide created during cement manufacture is absorbed before it enters the environment and stored safely under the seabed – in this example, in Liverpool Bay.

Hanson noted that despite investing in the Flintshire site over the last decade, including an efficiency-led development project in 2017, it cannot achieve net zero by 2050 with CCS.

Padeswood was shortlisted for funding in BEIS’s Phase 2 Carbon Capture and Storage Cluster Sequencing process in August.

Today, October 20, public sessions are at Buckley Cross Community Centre and Emmanuel Church Penyffordd. There’s more online.

Hanson said Padeswood is a step toward decarbonizing building. Without carbon-neutral building materials, the UK can’t attain net zero.

The goal is to capture 800,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, or 320,000 automobiles. HyNet might save 10 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

Hanson stated the initiative will:

  • invest £400m in Padeswood cement factory and the region’s economy;
  • Ensure the future of 2,500 cement industry employment, 15,000 indirect jobs, and 2.5 million construction jobs;
  • Grow output and efficiency by adding 54 full-time jobs at Padeswood and 350 construction roles.

“This is a project of tremendous significance as it supports the transition of the larger construction industry to a net zero future,” the company said.

Ombú, Madrid: a unique Fosters building

Original Source: Ombú, Madrid: a very different kind of Fosters building

Ombú, a Madrid warehouse retrofitted by Foster + Partners, creates 10,000m2 of carbon-neutral workspace.

The Ombú in Madrid is the least Fosters-like structure I’ve seen. Despite the lack of glossy, smooth façades typical of the practice’s high-tech new-builds across five decades, crisp, flawless lines are nonetheless obvious here – even in a vintage refit. It’s an aesthetically pleasing and carbon-neutral endeavour.

Ombú, a repurposed building in Madrid, was completed in June. Acciona is a global leader in clean energy.

The large-scale refit project changed this historic structure and the area adjacent to Méndez lvaro Station, generating almost 10,000m2 of office space for a single tenant. Around the station, public and private land have been united with Spanish-style landscaping.

Méndez lvaro is Spain’s busiest station, opening in 1997. Omb’s transformation includes a new back door that opens onto a new office building. Calle de Pedro Bosch connects Retiro and Arganzuela behind Omb. The Metro bridge is being demolished as part of the city’s plan to establish a sustainable 18th-century boulevard.

Méndez lvaro is Spain’s busiest station, opening in 1997. Ombú’s transformation includes a new back door that opens onto a new office building. Calle de Pedro Bosch connects Retiro and Arganzuela behind Ombú. The Metro bridge is being demolished as part of the city’s plan to establish a sustainable 18th-century boulevard.

Fosters’ warehouse idea was straightforward. It stripped it, cleaned it, and added a massive tiered cake of glulam slabs and columns.

The project team had a lot to work with. The old building was in such good shape that they were able to use its freestanding loadbearing framework to support the lightweight timber pitched roof. The historic building exterior was preserved, saving approximately 10,000 tonnes of original brick and reducing its environmental effect.

A lightweight chestnut-on-spruce glulam construction is the key design element. It’s built from sustainable Spanish wood. It’s recyclable and demountable, providing for spatial flexibility while integrating lighting, ventilation, and other services.

The clean, whitewashed brick walls seem harsh in contrast to the new timber superstructure. The whole thing is of UK-rare calibre.

Ortiz Zaforas explains why the owner was also a function Object() { [native code] }, energy provider, and structural engineer. This eliminated the intermediary and most’ client-contractor conflicts, he claims.

From the warehouse’s eastern entrance, its rectangular shape and right annexe are instantly recognisable. A new core connects the annexe to the main area, pushing the timber insert to this side.

Ortiz Zaforas says the wood insert is ‘dry’. It’s freestanding, doesn’t contact brick walls, and has few or no metal attachments. Services are brought down between 2x13m timber slabs and fed through wood joints to prevent suspended ceilings or additional finishes.

In the main room, the warehouse’s timber roof and cast-iron windows stand out. The roof structure has been preserved and needs minor maintenance. During construction, a coal-carrying crane was saved, cleaned up, and fitted with a new engine and wireless control to haul 2m-long lumber. Long thin grey pipes along the roof’s sloped interior hide the sprinkler system.

Where a chimney formerly stood, a PV glass skylight generates electricity while filtering light, minimising the need for artificial illumination.

The existing masonry structure has big statement windows. Instead of replacing them altogether, the cast-iron frames were kept and the glass panes were replaced with plastic to reduce draughtiness and thermal bridging. The thermal mass of the structural brickwork keeps the area cool even on a sunny 30°C day in early September.

Ortiz Zaforas designed the working environment so employees may ‘work anywhere and anywhere’ in the building and surrounding region. The customer was dubious until the pandemic, when this became the standard. Each balustrade around the staggered floor plates features a laptop-sized ridge. A new patio lets people work outside in Madrid’s mild environment. Ortiz Zaforas calls this an “English” courtyard since it has four walls, like an Oxbridge quad.

This courtyard with water features cools the air and links via steps to a 12,400m2 space with 350 newly planted trees with outdoor working spaces and informal meeting locations covered by their canopies. Local species were chosen to reduce irrigation water use, which will come from local sources.

This green, semi-public space will connect the building to the surrounding community, while the nearby town-owned space will be redesigned as a park. Omb’s guarded outdoor space is open during business hours.

Due to the building’s historic heritage, exhaust chimneys are buried among the trees. All of these flow through the timber core to keep the utilities in place without compromising the construction.

Ombú has two entrances: one on Calle de Omb at ground level. A foyer in the courtyard goes down steps to the basement.

The unfinished basement will feature a gym and cafeteria. Post-tension concrete creates a column-free zone for occupants. Ortiz Zaforas laughs, ‘We attempted to convince Acciona to give Fosterers their own office space.’

Despite being confidential, he says the cost per m2 is similar to a regular office building. The team subcontracted the timber frame before construction began to avoid inflation.

Omb’s carbon emissions will be absorbed by the earth’s present capacity, according to Fosters. This balances sources and sinks as needed by the Paris Agreement, while maintaining the original +2°C target’s environmental impact.

As a sceptic of truly sustainable structures — language and ‘greenwashing’ are often used to gloss concerns – I found this project persuasive. Does this signal a new generation of environmentally aware Fosters buildings? Hopefully. As the UK’s largest practise, it should set an example by embracing retrofitting as an alternative to new construction.

Due to the moderate climate in Spain and differing planning and building laws in the UK, I’m not sure if something similar could be done here.

The crew inherited a building in decent condition that required only cosmetic changes. There was enough area to strategically nestle the project and connect it to its surroundings.

The UK industry can learn a lot from what was achieved spatially in a big empty space with a limited material palette and (supposedly) ‘normal’ budget.

Architectural perspective

Acciona’s future vision aligns with the practice’s dedication to delivering customised design solutions that optimise their operations and the earth. Foster + Partners took a holistic approach to sustainability for this unusual refit and revitalization project.

The historic building exterior was kept to preserve 10,000 tonnes of original brick and reduce environmental impact. A lightweight framework created from local forests provides for spatial flexibility and integrates lighting, ventilation, and other utilities. The demountable, recyclable wood framework will save 1,600 tonnes of CO2. A central skylight and photovoltaic glass reduce the need for artificial illumination.

Using ecological footprint, the project’s impact was quantified and enhanced; its carbon footprint was measured and regulated. The design reduces embodied carbon by 25% throughout the project’s life, allowing for future refurbishment. Energy use is 35% below usual. 

Foster + Partners’ sustainability head, Chris Trott

Engineer’s perspective

In the last 50 years, timber engineering has evolved. New materials, building techniques, formal arrangements, and structural safety verification are among instruments available to structural designers.

This project used these tools. Alpine spruce CLT is ribbed with Spanish chestnut glulam beams. CLT has gained prominence over the last century, while hardwood glulam is a late 80s material.

Chestnut’s excellent compressive strength supports 60-minute fire rates in thin columns. Slender columns and beams help the joints resist rotation. Beams and columns have hinged-fixed bars. Complex nodes eliminate span joints. High-strength concrete is joined to glued steel plates in the beams with completely threaded screws.

Fully threaded 0.2m to 3m high-strength screws are common. For this project, they allowed us to combine beam and slab actions and build complex transverse sections for cantilevered portions. CLT’s joint stiffness and vertical nucleus provide lateral stability. 

Miguel Nevado, Enmadera wood engineer


Acciona Real Estate responds to the climate emergency as part of Acciona Group. We’ve boosted our capacity to invest in the sustainable development of the economy, accelerating our positive influence.

With these goals in mind, we developed Omb with a holistic approach to sustainability and wellbeing, aligning it with the original +2°C Paris Agreement target.

Its carbon footprint has been measured and regulated, lowering embodied carbon by 25% over the project’s life. We’re also managing the building post-construction to improve its energy efficiency (calculated to be 35 percent below normal expectations).

Environmental and societal impact are crucial. Omb revitalises its neighbourhood by renovating an old building and improving outdoor spaces.

Technical management and sustainability manager, Acciona Real Estate


For the new timber structure, chestnut columns follow an 8m diagonal grid. Beams above drive column form. Steel plates and stiff elements join columns and beams. Beams and columns are made of 600mm-deep, 13m-long glulam chestnut. Spain laminates and uses wood from local forests to reduce carbon.

Beams are screwed to the CLT slab to save wood. 280mm-thick spruce CLT slab. Usually 2m by 13m. The ceiling is the slab’s underside.

Services are integrated under the elevated floor in a 500mm cavity that feeds upwards and downwards through machine-milled perforations along the CLT panel joints. Air diffusers, light fixtures, and sprinklers are integrated into aluminium extrusions positioned under CLT joints. FSC-certified timber was erected utilising the original 1905 bridge crane to save time and money.

Foster+Partners’ Taba Rasti and Pablo Urango Lillo

Summary of today’s construction news

Overall, we discussed the Callington affordable housing that has started construction and the first residents of Cornwall Council’s 15 new affordable Callington housing are scheduled to move in late 2023. It has been determined by specialists that the Bay Technology Centre at Neath Port Talbot’s Baglan Energy Park generates more energy than it consumes, and the project was named Commercial Property Project of the Year at the BCI Awards. According to Hanson, Padeswood is a major development in the effort to reduce carbon emissions from construction. The United Kingdom cannot get to net zero without the use of carbon-neutral building materials. Ombú, a repurposed building in Madrid, modified by Foster + Partners and was completed in June. Nearly 10,000 square metres of office space were created as part of the massive renovation project that transformed this historic building and the neighbourhood close to Méndez lvaro Station.

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