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Christian Clues MCIOB

BAM Construction

King’s Cross Sports Hall, London

On his first job as project manager, Christian Clues rose to the challenge of a small but complex sports hall build above live railway tunnels. Everything from the super-lightweight concrete for the foundations and slab to the zinc-clad timber frame was unusual, requiring an extraordinary level of attention, planning and execution. He didn’t just deliver a quality build on programme, but client savings too. The client now wants him for one of their future schemes.

About the Project

King’s Cross Sports Hall, London

Construction of sports centre and gym, completed in 64 weeks.

Client: Argent

Contract: JCT, design and build

Value: £10m

Big projects typically bring big challenges, but then big projects also have big teams to overcome them, while smaller projects have only a few people to resolve all the complexities. In the case of this £10m scheme, everything relied on Christian Clues, on his first job as project manager, and he rose to the challenge.

The thread that ran through the project was the shallow-dug rail tunnels below the site, which meant only a lightweight build load could be tolerated. Because of the proximity of the works to the tunnels – as close as 1.2m above the crown of one – the strip foundations and ground-floor slab had to be split and installed one 7m-wide strip at a time to avoid any risk of ground heave when unloading the tunnels. Christian came up with the 10-step process applied to every single load of the bespoke lightweight concrete used. The concrete was weighed at the batching plant, then again on site to ensure it was within the specified limits.

Naturally the zinc-clad superstructure was also super-lightweight. But installation of the cross-laminated timber frame and glulam timber columns soon revealed a problem: the roof timber could not dry properly because of water collecting in the roof valleys. Christian came up with the innovative programme-forwarding solution of venting the roof so the membrane and buildup could be installed while the wood was still drying out.

Christian didn’t just deliver a quality build on programme. Although not involved in the precontract programming, he saved the client a substantial amount soon after he started by realising that a simultaneous access road project would cause mutual holdups. By making the bold call to hold back on the road works by three weeks, he was also able to omit a £50,000 temporary batter and use the retaining wall of the sports hall instead. The client has subsequently requested Christian to work on one of its future schemes.