GOLD: Housing & Accommodation over £8 Million
Name: Edward Biddle MCIOB
Employer: Vinci Construction UK
Project: Bagot Street Student Accommodation, Aston
A massive success with all stakeholders, Ed Biddle’s delivery of four tower blocks for student accommodation had a single onerous drawback: it set his employer a dauntingly high benchmark for its next scheme with the client.
Ed’s construction leadership brought the buildability and innovation gains that delivered the cost, programme and quality demands. His superb reworking of the three key elements – frame, cladding and bathroom pods – also took a huge amount of risk out of the scheme.
His replacement of in situ concrete flat slabs and columns with cross-wall concrete allowed him to cast 70% of the internal walls along with the frame, enabling early pod positioning and M&E installation. Combined with ditching the precast concrete cladding in favour of structural insulated panels attached direct to the frame off mast climbers, it also meant the tower crane could be removed much earlier from site.
And rather than GRP bathroom pods, he used wholly prefabricated steel-framed models. The consequent reduction in follow-on trades alleviated bottlenecks and simplified the programme at a time when it was most vulnerable.
It was buildability triumphant rather than quality put under the cosh. Ed’s determination to maintain the key design concepts quickly gained the confidence of the architect. The client laid particular emphasis on superior quality criteria given that the site was surrounded by existing student blocks operated by competitors. The fact that the completed development has a vast waiting list for the next year’s occupation speaks volumes for its quality.
Also in this section: