Meet the Finalists

2022 | Higher Education

Martin Roberts
Willmott Dixon

The Brunel Centre, Bristol: construction of three-storey academic block, completed in 74 weeks. 

Client: South Gloucestershire and Stroud College 

Contract: NEC, option A 

Value: £7m  

About the Project

The Brunel Centre, Bristol

Innovative thinking never fails to hit the spot. On this scheme to build a media and tech learning centre, Martin Roberts delivered budget, programme and quality by challenging the methodology. 

His early decision to service the internal works through an internal hoist rather than an external telehandler was a key commercial initiative. Martin demonstrated the cost saving as well as the logistical merits. It allowed the facade to be closed faster, making the building watertight sooner and giving the supply chain unhindered access. It also meant he could complete the floors top-down rather than bottom-up, minimising the risk of damage to completed works.  

He also changed the earthworks strategy of mass excavation below the raft foundation formation. By proving the ground capability through a series of plate load-bearing tests, he was able to reduce the dig operation and waste sent to landfill. 

He then re-engineered the drainage design, which originally required deep excavations with temporary support for the trenches. His introduction of drop shafts allowed the design levels to be raised. It improved programme and generated yet more savings. 

Martin’s knack for pragmatic problem-solving and his solution-driven approach were constants that dissolved the constraints. He tackled everything from resolving small carpentry details to coordinating the mounting of the solar panels and brise soleil through the curtain walling and onto the cross-laminated timber frame.

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