The Challenge:

The Biosphere is located in the centre of the Helix development in Newcastle City Centre, with numerous construction developments ongoing around the Project, each of these with their own constraints and regulations which required meticulous logistical and Health and safety planning.

As a part of the development a district network of heating and cooling was being installed and a new energy centre constructed. As these services supplied the Biosphere extensive co-ordination was required to ensure that the works were installed ahead of our commissioning of the building. Kier provided temporary gas, electric and water to commission the building for allow the phased handovers.

The Solution:

Construction is insitu concrete frame on piled foundations. External walls are a mix of PCC panels, windows and curtain walling. The external envelope is a mix of reconstituted PCC panels, windows and curtain walling. The facility started off with two floors of level 2 fitted labs and write-up areas which were quickly let by leading bio-science companies leading to the additional two upper void spaces being fitted out.

Regular progress meetings were undertaken with adjacent contractors and various clients to plan and manage forthcoming works and co-ordinate access routes, deliveries and craneage plans. Additional fit-out works were also instructed by the client on upper levels, with dates for partial possessions to suit the tenant occupation dates agreed and achieved.

Due to the exposed external envelope for the duration of the fit out, we innovatively used Rhino wrap to protect the building against the weather conditions and ensure the critical path could run through the building, resulting in no delays and programme milestones achieved. The wrap guaranteed the water and air tightness of the building while the internal fit out took place. The excellent communication and working team ethic between the project team and supply chain ensured that this sequence within the programme was undertaken and executed smoothly and safely. 

The Impact:

Lower Ground and ground floor spaces are Grade A fitted offices exclusively for use by science-based companies and those providing appropriate ancillary services. The development also offers a bespoke programme of business support, including expert advice and industry knowledge to help businesses grow and develop, supporting the journey from world class research to the commercialisation of products and services.

We had a set programme of targeted recruitment and training arrangements which were incorporated within the main contract and stepped down to our supply chain to encourage the younger generation to experience working within the construction industry.

Regular meetings were held with Newcastle City Council at early stages of project to discuss and agree arrangements to assist with this and open up these opportunities to as many apprentices and school leavers as possible. We arranged site tours for construction week and held an open doors event attended by local job centre plus employees and customers, university/college students and other local people interested in construction.

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