Meet the Finalists
2022 | Higher Education
Centre for Student Life, Cardiff: construction of student centre with learning spaces and 550-seat lecture theatre, completed in 136 weeks.
Client: Cardiff University
Contract: NEC 3, option A
About the Project
Centre for Student Life, Cardiff
Christian Parton built this 26m-high behemoth of a block on a cabbage patch crowded on all four sides by a main road, a railway line, a nursery and a student union. It took high-powered leadership, superb logistics management, ironclad technical expertise and unwavering client focus.
With a huge volume of works required for the building’s main concrete cores, Christian needed to regain time lost to obstructions in the ground. He switched to mast climbers rather than scaffolding for one elevation to eliminate the need for progress-slowing railway line possessions. And through night-time double-shifting, he ensured that all the tower cranes’ hook time went to lifting in the structural steel and precast concrete for the 550-seat auditorium.
Christian achieved the budget in preconstruction with an £8m cost-cutting programme. His initiatives included changing the concrete panels for one facade to cladding panels. This also eased the need for line possession, and allowed finishing to get under way sooner, as the facade installation was faster.
His innovations included using the atrium upstands as structural beams so that the spans could be maximised. And he gave university staff the opportunity to experience the acoustic performance of the various spaces – and make a decision on them – by deploying a sound simulation tool. Its introduction also eliminated the need for expensive vibration isolators to limit ground-borne noise from the railway.