Employer: Berkeley Homes (East Thames) Limited

Project: RAR Hotel

Brian Oatley moved out of his housebuilding comfort zone with enormous assurance and enthusiasm on this technically challenging, programme-constrained hotel and restaurant project.

Having built hundreds of homes on brownfield sites during a 23-year construction career, principally with Berkeley Homes, Brian Oatley was very much out of his comfort zone with this project. Not only was it his first hotel, but it was also his (and his employer’s) first foray into fast-track modular-framed construction.

Brian took over the site management reins following the failure of the original contractor, with the concrete frame already up. With the 128 bedrooms on the upper five storeys to be installed as prefinished structural modules in parallel rows to form corridors, he immediately got himself up to speed with the technology. He visited a finished modular development and inspected the manufacturer’s facility.

During the build of the modular bedroom units, he attended the factory four days a week for five weeks, first to ensure compliance with specification and then to monitor the progress of the units prior to arrival on site. While this initiative slightly delayed the first deliveries to site, it prevented abortive works and costs to the modular contractor.

He then installed the modules without scaffolding to speed up the process, using mobile working platforms and mast climbers to complete the facade works. On the one rendered elevation where access was restricted, he instigated a scaffold tie design to form a regular grid that would ultimately support an advertising banner. The entire rendered facade was completed in a day, and stainless steel cable sockets replaced the ties as the scaffold was removed.