VINCI Construction UK’s Liberty Point project

VINCI’s exciting development involves the conversion of three high-rise office blocks to form 240 units of student accommodation, a reception area and gymnasium in Southampton.

Outlining the project and its unique challenges, Construction Manager Refiq Latif said:

“This project here at Liberty Point consists of the refurbishment of a previous British Gas building into new halls of residence for students. The new halls of residence will accommodate 240 students who can enjoy great high-spec facilities including a gymnasium. The project involves an initial strip-out of the existing structure followed by various structural alterations. Starting from the top down, the main refurbishment began towards the end of October 2015, with completion planned during August 2016.”

The project has involved major logistical constraints due to the site being part of a live student campus which meant that security was of paramount importance from the start. There was also very little extra room on site, so a thorough site logistics plan had to be implemented and constantly monitored.

Some of the other challenges encountered during this project involved working within a live building,  major logistical constraints, high drug use locally and homelessness within the area. Here is what the project team did to overcome these hurdles:

  • Pre-planning to ensure that all site working areas were shut off and not accessible to anyone, other than workers on the site.
  • All works within a live area planned and reviewed with Liberty Living, prior to the works commencing.
  • A thorough logistics plan put in place and reviewed with Liberty Living.
  • Working with the local homeless charity to raise awareness and provide support (further details below).

You can find out how the team addressed the challenges of the project, as well as reading about VINCI Construction UK’s many other examples of best practice by clicking on the sliders below:

  • Site hoarding showed the site team’s commitment to the Considerate Constructors Scheme, along with graphics of the students and on-going works.
  • Site information points could also be found in various locations on the hoarding, publicising the contact information for the VCUK team.
  • The site arranged for world-leading construction technology company, Hilti, to carry out a whole day briefing on control of dust and carry out demonstrations on new tools available on the market.
  • Various events were staged with Liberty Living and the local community to bring togetherness and acceptance. These events included a raffle in aid of Cancer Research UK, a Fun Day and free barbecue with a charity raffle draw and a chance for members of public to throw coloured gunge over the staff and contractors.
  • The site team supported Cancer Research UK through a 48-hour sponsored exercise bike event and also took part in Dry January.
  • Site manager carried out an abseil for a premature baby charity, raising £1000.
  • Tours of the project were organised and ‘Good Neighbour’ questionnaires were produced to allow residents to comment on the work.
  • A Halloween Pumpkin Carving Competition was organised for the students.
  • A Graduate Induction guest lecture for HNC students at Solent University was organised, as well as a support day for the local scout group when they carried out improvements and repairs.
  • A barbecue was held for the students to introduce them to the site team and explain the project.
  • Pupils were engaged from a local school to put together a time capsule which was buried at Liberty Point.
  • The site team took part in a ‘gunge the contractor’ event for Cancer Research, raising £459.
  • The site team also took part in a 48-hour cycle marathon raising £200 for charity.
  • A Southampton homeless charity received £103 from project team activities with students and also from donations of recycled clothing.
  • Toolbox talks were given on how to be a good neighbour.
  • Used toner cartridges, inkjet cartridges and mobile phones were collected for recycling.
  • Collections were also made of clothes, shoes, bags and belts and other materials for charity.
  • Plants were left outside the hut and sold in return for donations.
  • Funds were raised to build a new scout headquarters and carry out repairs to the hut.
  • Local scouts visited site and painted some canvases for the site office.
  • Mobile phone use was only within safe areas, with a £5 fine levied if anyone was caught using phones out of safe areas, with all monies donated to Cancer Research.
  • A community timber recycling scheme was implemented and cancer charity phone and clothing recycling bins were made available.
  • The project team attended student committee meetings.
  • Open hoardings allowed residents to see ongoing works.
  • The VINCI site manager carried out a talk to Southampton University students regarding the construction industry and his experiences.
  • Energy saving bulbs were used for hoarding and compound lights. Battery banks on site charged batteries and phones powered by the wind turbine.
  • LED floodlights on site accommodation were connected to wind turbines and solar panels.
  • All site temporary lights were on movement sensors, all heaters were on thermostatic controls and timers, and all water taps were push-taps to reduce wastage.
  • Storm water drains were all protected via mesh nets to prevent debris entering the storm drains.
  • Water interceptors were used for all dewatering on site and water was then discharged into storm drains.
  • Needle bins were put up around the site perimeter.
  • Operatives were able to use the Liberty Point bike park located next to the project.
  • The entire workforce was encouraged to cycle to work, with VCUK offering free cereal to those who did.
  • Site cabins were double insulated to save energy.
  • The project donated furniture and chairs to the local scout group to avoid sending it to landfill.
  • The project team donated old company phones to help raise money for the local scouts.
  • Plant over five years old was not allowed on site, helping to cut harmful emissions.
  • All carbon footprint data was stored on the VCUK intranet and also on a site logging system.
  • The use of minibuses was encouraged and 60% of staff arrived via this mode of transport.
  • A car share scheme was in operation on site.
  • Recycled plastic hoarding was used.
  • Bug eating environmental spill kits were utilised.
  • The site team set up a vegetable patch for the benefit of students and local residents.
  • There were no waiting times for deliveries; this ensured that congestion around the site was minimalised. Deliveries also had to be booked in with VCUK prior to arrival. This meant the site team could manage the order of deliveries so that no two deliveries happened at the same time.
  • The Liberty Point project carried out a ‘Stop for Safety Day’ where the whole job stopped and watched a safety video and a task briefing was carried out for all work areas; bacon rolls and drinks were supplied for this event.
  • All subcontractors carried out e-learning on the VINCI intranet.
  • A Playstation and television were made available in site meeting room for the use of the workforce.
  • Picnic benches were purchased to allow operatives to sit outside for break times or meetings.
  • An occupational health nurse visited the site.
  • An interpreter was available on site for inductions and help if required.
  • The whole project was taken for breakfast on reaching 250,000 million man hours.
  • Free wifi was made available.
  • Prince’s Trust operatives and an apprentice were employed on site.
  • A student attended site once a week for work experience.
  • Operatives from the Rainbow Project promoted the health and wellbeing of the LGBT community.
  • The site team took the site operatives who won safety awards (or went the extra mile for the benefit of the project) go karting.

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