Gold Winner in Higher Education

Christopher Purchase
Willmott Dixon
All Finalists

Willmott Dixon

South Wales Police Learning Centre, Bridgend, South Wales

South Wales Police Learning Centre, Bridgend, South Wales: redevelopment of headquarters building as a learning centre, completed in 208 weeks. 

Client: South Wales Police 

Contract: NEC, option A 

Value: £49m 

About the Project

On a difficult brownfield site, Chris Purchase scored the big victories in the ground.  

Pockets of contaminated land meant either removing 19,000 tonnes of subsoil or covering the pockets with a geomembrane and capping them. That was until Chris suggested a cheaper and easier alternative: sustainable reuse. By densely planting more than 20,000 low-maintenance native trees, shrubs and bushes, he was able to have the land certified as a site of importance for nature conservation, allowing the soil to be remediated and retained. 

Similarly, he eliminated a piling operation to deal with voids under one of the new buildings. Instead, he excavated the fractured rock, crushed it and then returned it as fill, along with crushed rubble from the initial demolition works. It saved the client £750,000 and advanced site start by two months. 

Exploiting his extensive experience of heavy civil engineering works, Chris developed a cut solution to create construction plateaus in ground that was extremely dry in summer but awash with springs during the winter rains. His drainage solution of trenches with perforated pipes at the base down the escarpments and gabions planted with sedums along them saved time and money.