Meet the Finalists

2022 | Residential & Accommodation

Martin Bennett MCIOB
Willmott Dixon

Ashton Rise, Bristol: construction of 133 homes, completed in 121 weeks. 

Client: Bristol City Council 

Contract: NEC, option A 

Value: £24m 

About the Project

Ashton Rise, Bristol

With so much external brickwork across the five blocks of flats and 50 houses of this scheme, Martin Bennett made a crucial decision. He ditched a traditional-style build in favour of modern methods of construction.  

By introducing precast aircrete walls and an insulated steel-framed system, he achieved project certainty at a time when bricklayers were in short supply, and took the brickwork off the critical path. Each unit was built and made watertight more quickly than a traditional build, giving the internal trades more time to devote to quality. 

Martin’s embrace of the future did not end with the masonry. He trialled a road surfacing system that replaces part of the carbon-intensive bitumen in asphalt with plastic waste. Because the plastic gives the asphalt more flexibility, cracks and potholes are less likely to form. 

A decision was made in preconstruction for sustainable heating rather than gas boilers. So Martin put in a district heating network of 133 ground-source heat pumps fed by pipes in 33 boreholes up to 185m deep.  

Although the floor plans were already fixed by this point and space was limited, Martin dodged the substantial costs of altering the floor layouts of the 133 units. He had a steel frame designed that incorporated both heat pump and water cylinder in each unit’s airing cupboard. So successful was his initiative that it has since been copied by other projects. 

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