Beard host international visitors at Iffley Road site

Beard’s site team at Iffley Road Sports Centre played host to construction professionals from Ethiopia and Sudan on Wednesday.

The visit was organised in conjunction with Roger Flanagan, Professor at the University of Reading and Past President of the CIOB. Roger is involved with research and lecturing in the construction field in many countries and was keen for the visitors to get a flavour of health and safety and construction techniques on a site in the UK. The visitors included the President of the Sudan Contractors’ Association and President of the Ethiopian Construction Technology & Management Association; they were all CEOs of construction companies from Ethiopia and Sudan.

The visitor’s feedback was that they were very impressed with the site organisation, the quality of the workmanship on the project, the people, and how much attention Beard paid to safety and health. They had the opportunity to learn how East African contractors need to have cleaner and better-organised sites, and the importance of respect for people. They found it difficult to believe how the project team had to protect the crested newt community; they said that really showed great care – that definitely would not happen in their countries! They are going back to their home countries with a great impression of Beard and UK construction.

The Iffley Road project involves building a new 4-court sports hall and weight room as well as a reconfiguration of an existing sports facility. The sport hall will feature a stunning glass floor with underlighting which will mean that players are able to simply switch the court lines on for the appropriate sport.  This is the first of its kind in the UK.

The new build features a bank of solar panels on the roof, which will provide some of the building’s energy requirements. The court roof lights will be carefully positioned to “wash the walls” to avoid any glare when playing and natural light will illuminate the new 4 court sports hall Via the glass roof down either side of the building.  The energy efficiency of the building is assured with 140mm Celotex insulation between the outer brick and inner block wall.

The visitors were very interested in the technical aspects of the build, including the use of vibro-compaction to create the piles used to stabilise the building, instead of a traditional piling system. Vibro-compaction being chosen as it is a better choice on a non-cohesive soil.

Project Manager Jon Brock was happy to answer the technical questions covering various aspects of the build and the material used. The visitors were very interested in the various building techniques and practices employed including damp proofing, insulation and laying a concrete floor in such a vast space without the need for any joins.

The visitors went on to do a walk past the Mansfield College site, which they had initially intended to visit as well but they enjoyed their visit to Iffley Road so much that time restricted them from being able to do so.

It was a privilege to host them and we hope the visitors will return home with some new ideas and best practice, to help them in their drive to improve construction sites in their respective countries.

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