Artelia’s Phase 1 Restoration of Bletchley Park wins the 2015 Constructing Excellence in London and the South East Project of the Year award. This coveted award was presented on the 2nd July at an awards dinner at Lancaster London. Over 540 construction industry professionals attended the awards ceremony which has increased in size by 20% year on year since 2011.
Authenticity has been the focus of this project throughout. The team describe the restoration of Bletchley Park as a ‘once in a lifetime heritage project’ – more about paying tribute to people and their contribution to the history of our nation, than the nuts and bolts of project management.
By 1991 Bletchley Park was unoccupied and threatened with demolition. A preservation trust raised £3m and then added a £5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to transform this world-class heritage site into a new centre of education, learning and community activities.
The interpretation and translation of the Bletchley Park story was a pivotal part of the non-tangible vision for the project. Sympathetic integration of modern services and technologies to achieve effective displays within the buildings’ historic character was a serious challenge.
Project Managers, Artelia, provided clear leadership to a great multidisciplinary team effort. Collaboration was at the heart of the project from effective engagement of a wide range of stakeholders, including high profile trustees, conservationists, AV specialists through the design and construction team. Collaboration was key to achieving the successful HLF Round 2 submission for the Trust.
At the heart of contractual arrangements sat an innovative procurement model using a two stage tender process, and cost/programme certainty was achieved through a pain/gain model. Derek Rees, Regional Director, Constructing Excellence emphasised “our awards recognise the very best companies, collaborations and projects in the region and I hope you will be inspired to adopt some of the new and better ways of working that Artelia have shared.
The team applied a range of conservation and innovative techniques to retain as much original building fabric as possible – difficult given the extent of asbestos and poor state of repair. In Block C, demolishing the post-war brick partitions by hand was an onerous task for which a remotely operated robot was deployed allowing the job to be completed sensitively and safely. The brickwork repairs carried out using traditional techniques are barely noticeable. Floorboards, joists and skirting boards, which had decayed beyond repair were replaced using reclaimed war-time timbers.
The iconic, once derelict, codebreaking huts sit in a landscape that has returned to its 1940’s appearance in terms of the buildings, and the storytelling in the interpretation. The re-orientation of the site has diverted traffic away from the historic core of the site, improved the visitor experience and can service up to 2,500 visitors per day, with disability access, WC provision and wayfinding all improved.
Bletchley Park is not just environmentally but also socially and financially benefitting the local community. There are self-draining surfacing carparks, wild meadow planting, bat boxes and badger-friendly environments, while low ambient temperature heating is used in the huts and a barely noticeable insulated roof has been used on Block C. The trust has negotiated travel deals with local train companies, runs an apprenticeship programme, provides opportunities for volunteering and employs an expanding workforce.
“We continue to recognise and affiliate ourselves with the values of Constructing Excellence and we remain committed to developing high quality retail led multi use complexes to enhance and regenerate areas within Greater London and the South East Region. We are honoured and delighted to continue our sponsorship of Constructing Excellence London and South East Annual Awards.” Keith Whitmore, Director of Design and Construction, Westfield.
Constructing Excellence in London and the South East is part of a national industry network charged with driving the change agenda in construction. Constructing Excellence is a not-for-profit organisation, supported nationally by thousands of companies committed to developing and sharing knowledge between industry, clients, government, education and research. We seek to improve industry performance through collaborative working across the whole sector, including all parts of the demand and supply chain, all disciplines, professions and trades.
The Constructing Excellence in London and the South East Awards are sponsored by Westfield – one of the world’s largest shopping centre owners and managers and a market leader in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom.
These awards are unique in their recognition of outstanding companies and projects that have delivered improvements in all-round performance through collaborative working and a real desire to make a difference. Totally inclusive, our awards are open to all parts of the supply and demand chain, all disciplines, professions and trades, from buildings to infrastructure.
There are 12 categories – Achiever of the Year, Apprenticeship Initiative, BIM Project of the Year, Client of the Year, Health & Safety, Innovation, Integration & Collaborative Working, Leadership & People Development, Outstanding Customer Satisfaction, Project of the Year, SME of the Year, Sustainability.
All winners are put forward to the National Constructing Excellence Awards.