Considerately constructing a new “heart” for Nottingham Trent University with G F Tomlinson Building Ltd

Set within the beautifully landscaped University Plaza, the ‘Heart of the Campus’ comprises two new buildings – the Pavilion and the Teaching and Learning building. Adjoined to the Pavilion via a link bridge sits the Teaching and Learning building which has been emphasised and enriched by textured brickwork and copper.

Outlining the joint project, Assistant Project Manager, Quinn Greenwood of Nottingham Trent University Joint Venture said:

“Never before has Nottingham Trent University embarked on such an ambitious building project. Innovative design and build have resulted in the completion of a new ‘heart’ for the Clifton campus, transforming it beyond recognition.

“The centrepiece is the impressive Pavilion building. It is the new front door of the campus, designed to enhance the campus identity and provide a sense of arrival and gravitas. It features a full height glazed façade with a modular concrete vaulted canopy and covered walkway. Inside are two large levels of flexible spaces for collaborative learning and social interaction including cosy learning pods, bespoke seating areas to support group or individual study and a café.”

“We had the opportunity to enrich society by inviting a local primary school for an activity day. We held numerous charity events such as a ‘Children in Need’ coffee morning, a cricket match and a quiz night. Over the duration of the project we raised close to £1000 for various charities.”

One of the challenges of this project was working within a live university, but the team was fortunate enough to have the construction site located within the separate Clifton campus. This meant the project did not directly affect members of the local community. However, it was often compared to ‘open heart surgery’ due to the complexities involved and the impact of managing a major development within a live campus.

One significant challenge the team had to manage throughout the duration of the project was a multitude of open days. Clifton open days accommodate up to 3000 visitors on Saturdays and also mid-week. The project team incorporated this into the project programme and ensured that any noisy works or site traffic were diverted to alternative dates.

The team also had major Highways England infrastructure works taking place adjacent to the campus throughout the project, being carried out by Laing O’Rourke, which required careful planning in respect of communications and deliveries.

You can find out how the team addressed these challenges, as well as reading just a selection of best practice examples by G F Tomlinson Building Ltd, by clicking on the sliders below:

  • Displayed on the main frontage were vinyl posters produced by Nottingham Trent University, as well as GFT (GF Tomlinson Ltd) information about the site.
  • Viewing panels were supplemented by a securely fixed 42″ flat screen TV digital display.
  • A viewing room with material samples was established in a building overlooking the site and appeared very well organised.
  • The site offices and facilities were located in cabins housed in a separate fenced compound, with staff and visitor parking.
  • Company values and branding were promoted, cabins were of uniform corporate colour, signage is consistent and employees/managers wore corporate branded fleeces and PPE.
  • The project had an NTU web page open to staff and students.
  • Because of the major Highways England infrastructure works taking place next to the campus, careful planning was required in terms of deliveries and communication. The team nominated a dedicated liaison officer to regularly meet with Laing O’Rourke and discuss the works, as well as any issues and conflicts that might impact on the project.
  • The liaison officer also met with Nottingham Express Transit, as the installation of a new tram service coincided with the development.
  • Midway through the development, the site team arranged for a local primary school to visit the site and take part in various activities. These included identifying the correct PPE for a building site, colouring in Ivor Goodsite, flower planting to decorate the site compound and creating mini beast hotels and bird boxes.
  • The site team also made health and safety posters to display on the site hoarding which resulted in building a good relationship with the local school. Staff and pupils returned to the campus afterwards to engage in another project.
  • During the project the site presented a lecture to university students based on the day-to-day management of the project. The presentation included a slide about the Considerate Constructors Scheme, informing them about the tasks which were carried out, as well as its aim to improve the image of construction.
  • The site is surveyed by web cams, available via the NTU website.
  • The viewing room was occasionally opened to the public and included information boards.
  • A forum on access was held to ensure provision for disabled visitors was fit for purpose. Parking spaces were provided for people with disabilities.
  • Contact in the wider community included support for two schools and a coffee morning was held in the site cabin to raise funds for Children in Need.
  • The client created a web page for questions and suggestions for the site.
  • A specific part of the client/contractor agreement included the stipulation that local Nottingham workers should be employed on site and this was achieved by various means.
  • A legacy for the area was the landscaping of the surrounding grounds which resulted in a positive C02 contribution, compared with the hard-standing which was previously there.
  • Additionally, the landscaped area was designed by a division of the university, with all the plants grown by students who maintained them afterwards.  
  • The project specifically focused on achieving BREEAM standards.
  • Bat boxes were being introduced and existing drains were protected.
  • The GFT/NTU environmental teams provided specialist environmental design inputs and monitoring for BREEAM.
  • A weather recording station was monitored by a student.
  • The majority of subcontractors were from Nottingham and Derby.
  • Vehicle sharing and economical travel was encouraged and promoted. Mileage and vehicle use was recorded.
  • Cycling was also encouraged and showers were made available for cyclists.
  • In promotion of cycle use, there were 250 bicycles made available for rent from the university and one of the employees worked to maintain them all.
  • The contractor produced detailed reports with respect to environmental practices and future developments. This was freely available within the newsletter.
  • Rainwater harvesting was available on site and utilised wherever possible.
  • An exceptional element of the project was the landscaped area which was designed to have a positive C02 value for the university to utilise as part of one of their courses.
  • The project team allowed students to choose the types of plants and grow and maintain them was an on-going aspect of the project.
  • Additionally, courses were provided with respect to wildlife, including bat surveillance, maintenance of beehives and hedgehog houses.
  • There was a hierarchy of inspections and audits carried out by the site team, health and safety managers and the client.
  • Overall, site security was provided 365 days a year by the NTU.
  • Traffic management was fully developed to minimise impact on the campus.
  • Subcontractors’ health and safety credentials were checked on procurement and challenged to undertake training, improve safety standards and practices.
  • On-site safety reviews with supervisors and toolbox talks were held every two weeks.
  • Hazards were identified and full Riddor and near miss procedures were in place. These procedures are based on the IPA – ‘I Prevented an Accident’ programme.
  • An Operative of the Month scheme was used to encourage safer behaviour and site practice; the winner received a free breakfast and had his or her photo displayed.
  • All employees had clearly branded PPE, with additional replacement items available if required. 
  • The site introduced incentives such as Employee of the Month, go-karting and a tour around a football ground.
  • To embed the best practice evidenced on this site within future university construction projects, the site team created a reference handbook for all future schemes to abide by.
  • Showers were provided within the NTU facilities and NTU catering units were made available to the workforce and this proved very successful in respect of healthy eating.
  • The site was required to ensure 100% of CSCS cards and a section 106 agreement required liaison with the local employment hub to employ local people.
  • Two students from the NTU were working on site at the time of the Monitor’s visit and a further 16-week work experience placement for NTU students was planned.
  • The project team established links with The Prince’s Trust and was developing future projects at the time of the Monitor’s visit.
  • Healthy lifestyle promotions were advertised and the NTU medical and wellbeing centre was made available to the site team. This included a cultural and prayer facility.
  • Full DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) facilities were made available.
  • GFT is in contact with NTU regarding developing a degree-based programme.
  • GFT staff training was reviewed annually and courses arranged to maintain and improve qualifications.

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