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Gold winner

Employer: Willmott Dixon Construction

Project: Sports and Wellness Hub, University of Warwick

Defect-free handover is getting to be a habit for Nick Preedy, who managed the feat again with this leisure centre. It’s quite an accomplishment given the testing technical challenges of the undertaking. They included installing a 17m-high climbing wall, co-ordinating a very large steel frame, managing complex roof interfaces with three different products and seven different levels, laying five different types of gym flooring to allow for varying activities while maintaining the visual cohesion of the whole floor, and building a 25m-long 12-lane swimming pool five metres above ground.

Nick challenged and redesigned the groundworks to get the cut and fill balance exactly right. Although his design involved moving 40,000 cubic metres of material, his repositioning of a precast retaining wall with no impact on internal spatial sizing resulted in zero waste leaving the site and saved the client £1m.

With the contract sum still £250k over budget, he substituted a more cost-effective solution for the original design of steel-supported precast planks on the upper floors. Change the floors to metal decking meant adding extra support beams but the total weight reduction allowed for a lighter frame. It also speeded up the steel erection, which was completed five weeks earlier than estimated.

As for the defect-free quality, Nick minimised damage by installing products at the last possible moment rather than fitting and then protecting them. Drawing on lessons learned from his previous defect-free project, he made his building manager a right-first-time champion, empowered to lead the anti-defect campaign. Combined with weekly client inspections for eight weeks prior to practical completion and dummy-running the final check one week beforehand, the third-party reviewer signed off the project as defect-free. The client has asked Nick to lead its future projects.