Meet the finalists

Higher Education
All Finalists2020 Winners

Darren Hancock MCIOB

Willmott Dixon

Darren Hancock called on extensive reserves of passion, commitment and technical insight to deliver this complex bioresearch development. His radical resequencing of the three-block build took 25% out of the projected costs and 10% off the timescale and made the project feasible. His reworking of a heavily overbudget external cladding system delivered further value-engineering joy. He completed the first building a week early, the second 12 months early and the third merely on time.

About the Project

Aberystwyth Innovation Enterprise Campus

Construction of three research blocks, completed in 112 weeks.

Client: Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus

Contract: JCT, design and build

Value: £27m

Once on board this project, Darren Hancock soon concluded there were serious problems with the initial construction programme that would not only make the scheme more expensive than intended but push the completion date another 20 weeks down the line.

Realising that two of the three planned buildings (a biorefining block and a new bioseed bank) were in fact very similar, Darren decided to construct them simultaneously rather than consecutively. The third building, an analytical hub, was to be built on the site of the old seed bank, which could only be demolished after its seeds had been safely decanted to the new bank. This resequencing was the key to bringing the construction period and the budget back into the realm of the realistic.

Further value-engineering joy came from Darren’s reworking of the heavily overbudget external cladding. He eliminated the proposed slow-to-install inner composite panel and rainscreen in favour of a built-up system with the same colour as the original design and a similar profile that made the building fabric weathertight sooner. His remodelling of a 135m-long retaining wall by moving the first two buildings and introducing external landscaping to allow the embankments to be naturally formed also helped hammer the project costs back down.

As a result, Darren completed the new bioseed bank defect-free one week early and achieved sectional completion of the biorefining building 12 months earlier than originally scheduled. Even the final building was two weeks ahead of programme and just five weeks from completion when the Covid lockdown hit. Darren’s approach remained measured and considered, and he replanned the completion sequence with credibility and success.