With completion date a top priority for the client, Simon Burkitt had to pull off several daring escapes of his own from programme doom on this scheme for an underwater survival training centre for Royal Navy helicopter and amphibious vehicle crews.
First up was a delay to the contract award that postponed the construction phase. Simon kept the unchanged delivery date in focus by reviewing the programme. His removal of the end-of-programme float piled on the construction management stress but demonstrated a powerfully collaborative approach.
Then came a significant archaeological find on day one of the site strip, triggering a full archaeological investigation before construction could commence. Simon exploited the greenfield site’s large footprint to maintain the start date for the critical piling operations by tying the dig in with a phased sequence of enabling works.
With access issues preventing work above the training pools, Simon maintained the programme by prefabricating the two permanent gantry cranes (for lifting helicopter modules in and out of the dunker pool) off site. Delivered complete to the project, they were lifted in bodily through a section of the roof structure left out for the purpose.
And he made the building watertight early by pouring the roof slab before the first-floor slab, to get ahead on the concrete curing time. That was critical for the adhesion of the triple felt roof system and allowed the roof-level blockwork to be finished early. The cladding could then be installed earlier than planned, permitting an early start to the roof-mounted services.
Simon’s innovation was equally resourceful. He raised the building by 300mm on a site where the water table was awkwardly close to the surface so that the piling platform could be built on river terrace deposits above a weaker ground formation. His initiative enhanced the performance of the piling mat, which he left in place to form the sub-base for the ground-floor slab, eliminating the landfill requirement. It also enhanced the falls away from the building, helping greatly with surface water drainage.