Mace’s praise for a truly collaborative cross-working partnership at the University of Oxford

Principal contractor for the University’s Old Road Campus Project – Mace – has commended the joined-up approach adopted by client the University of Oxford and all construction partners involved.

A hallmark of the Old Road Campus Project (ORC) was the highly successful collaborative working model involving Mace, the University of Oxford and the various tier-one construction partners engaged in the work.

Two of the ORC building projects that utilised the compliance requirements set out by the Considerate Constructors Scheme are:

  • The Innovation Building involved the construction of research space for a pharmaceutical company and the BioEscalator based at the heart of the medical research campus adjacent to the Churchill Hospital, Old Road Campus, Oxford. This project follows Mace’s completion of the nearby Big Data Institute, with the team using the established site for this new project.
  • The Big Data Institute opened in 2016 and is a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility located in Headington, Oxford.

CCS-driven health, safety and site review forum, and best practice sharing

Health, safety and site review meetings were regularly staged throughout the project to enable representatives from the various organisations and the University Capital Projects department to discuss all aspects of the work.

Commenting on the meetings, Capital Projects Programme Manager for The Medical Science Division at the University of Oxford, Dr Eveline James said:

“The purpose of the forum is to share lessons and best practice. We review any adverse events or incidents, implementation of best practice and have discussed diverse issues such as modern slavery, CLOCS, mental health and wellbeing, security, ‘buddy systems’, and soft landings.

“Many of the items for discussion are often related to those in the Scheme. We encourage openness and honesty from all those contributing in the forum.”

Some of the pertinent issues discussed during these forums were sustainable transport, adverse events and incidents, lessons learned and knowledge shared between contractors, traffic management, local authority events, and construction design and management (CDM). University security and terrorism issues were also on the agenda.

A Mace guest speaker shared a presentation on risk management of LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations). The Mace presenter was joined by a representative from Pro-Lifting. Main contractors were invited to the forum, as well as University stakeholders such as Health and Safety, Insurance, Security Services and the Environmental Sustainability Manager.

Knowledge Sharing

Mace’s Project Director, Robert Cocks said:

“I have worked for a number of high profile clients in my 22-year construction management career, both from the private and public sectors, but I have yet to come across a capital projects department quite like the team here at the University of Oxford, who facilitate and encourage cross-contractor knowledge sharing.

“They have established a healthy culture of learning from good and bad experience and have a genuine desire for continual improvement and efficiencies through the design, procurement and delivery of their projects.”

Scheme Monitor Praise                                                    

Visiting Scheme Monitor, Phil Hart said:

“The meetings that the client facilitates between all contractors is proving very valuable in sharing best practice and provides a forum to discuss any issues or trends.

“In a recent meeting it became apparent that contractors needed to be more aware of the University’s security protocols, for threats such as terrorist incidents. There is now a joined-up/co-ordinated approach that can be implemented if an incident happens.”

Praising the team’s overall achievements, Phil said: “This project continues to be a showcase of best practice. A range of improvements have been put in place since the last visit and the project is now achieving excellent to exceptional levels of performance.”

Workforce Innovation – Tufcoat

The project team was praised for their innovative method of using Tufcoat wrap to provide an enhanced working environment, by enabling the workspace to be environmentally controlled for both first and second fix works.

Mace’s Project Director, Robert Cocks said:

“Mace engaged manufacturer and installer Tufcoat to work up a strategy to wrap the building with sheeting to create a protective cocoon. This has allowed a significant proportion of the fit-out works to commence three months earlier than initially planned. The perimeter corridor allowed the cladding contractor to install the envelope unhindered and without disrupting the ongoing fit-out.”

The utilisation of Tufcoat adheres to compliance requirements by:

  • Providing a temporary weather-tight seal to the perimeter, saving on cost and ensuring quality
  • Respecting the privacy of neighbouring buildings during internal fit-out
  • Using translucent screens which allow natural light through
  • Maintaining an internal, controlled environment suitable for advancing second fix activities by keeping out the rain, wind and dust and creating a hermetic seal
  • Using LPC-approved and fully recyclable screening

Summarising this innovative way of working, Scheme Monitor Phil Hart said:

“Notably the team have developed an innovative enclosure which is erected on each floor. It provides a controlled environment for the second fix operations, eliminates a number of safety risks and allows cladding operations and the second fix to be carried out concurrently, eliminating interface issues.”

Key Challenges – Tufcoat

The team was faced with high winds during installation, which created a risk of tearing the sheeting and dislodging fixtures. Robert said:

“Working closely with the supplier, a specialist in fitting the wrapping, the risk was effectively managed during planning and installation. The team also had to devise a way to create safe access doorways through the screen; they achieved this by including pre-formed doorways with zip closures. Tunnels and shrouds can also be formed if required.”

To view a time lapse video showing Mace using this innovative Tufcoat wrap, click on the following link.

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