Here’s our pick of what’s hot right now and under the spotlight in the Architecture, Engineering & Construction arena!
Citicape House – vertical is the new green
An existing office building at Holborn Viaduct in London will be demolished to make way for a new 5-star hotel. 382 bedrooms and a rooftop bar overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral will ensure that customers can rest and relax in the heart of the city. Sheppard Robson architects are responsible for the innovative design and they’re set to break a record in Europe!
40,000 square feet of vertical green wall will set this architectural landmark apart from the rest. Not only is it expected to produce 6 tonnes of oxygen annually, but most importantly it will absorb over 8 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. This is very much in line with the UK Government target to become ‘net zero’ by 2050. This ‘net’ part becomes crucial to ensure that the target can be achieved. Carbon emissions will need to be offset either by absorbing CO2 from the air or by producing oxygen. Citicape House is ticking all the boxes to meet this target.
Jay Ahluwalia, director at Dominvs Group, recently said: ‘With the City of London’s vision for the area and the creation of the Culture Mile, we feel this project will support and enhance the overall ambition for this exciting, new cultural destination as the creative heart of the Square Mile.’ The building will also feature 40,000 square feet of workspace, including co-working areas. But to see how this greenery interacts with the city we will have to wait until 2025.
Heathrow third runway – three is the magic number
With public consultation finished last September, expectant parties and the public wait to see the next step for Heathrow. According to Heathrow numbers, they’ve been operating at 98% of the airport’s capacity for a decade. That means that airlines haven’t been able to grow their business at Heathrow. Instead, many have expanded in other European airport hubs, like Paris or Frankfurt. In turn, this has diminished the potential of the UK to increase trade and tourism with emerging economies, especially in Asia.
However, although the need for a third runway seems pretty obvious from the numbers, it’s also important to consider the potential environmental impacts of this expansion project. Heathrow’s masterplan, revealed earlier this year, shows the new runway going above the M25. As people who drive on the M25 will know, it’s the busiest road in England. The plan is to put a stretch of this strategic motorway underground, in a tunnel beneath the new runway. It also includes important diversions to rivers and new carparks for up to 50,000 vehicles.
Many of those opposed to the project argue that the impact of the extra 700 planes will be too much. In response, Heathrow seem to have agreed to put a 6.5-hour ban to the extra planes, to minimise impacts to local residents. Although the new runway should open by 2026, the masterplan shows that the airport will continue to expand with further construction works until 2050. This expansion will happen in different stages to minimise disruption, if it goes ahead. Whichever the case, we will have to wait and see if Heathrow gets planning permission.
Hinkley Point C – costs scale up, not only on the economic platform
The first power plant in the UK since 1995 is a talking point for many. As with most large-scale infrastructure projects, construction of Hinkley Point C has become a very controversial topic. Planning to supply over 7% of the UK’s electricity by 2025, the power plant is well into construction. Recently, the site saw the world’s largest crane – ‘Big Carl’ – which stands proud at 250m tall.
EDF Energy, owners of the plant, have also confirmed that the total cost will be higher than expected. With an initial budget of £19.5bn, it now looks likely that the final bill will be between £21.5bn and £22.5bn. EDF’s strategy director, Paul Spence, said: ‘The important point for me to make is that those costs are not costs that hit the consumer, they are costs that come to us as shareholders in the project.’
EDF will take the hit of the extra cost with no repercussions for their customer’s energy bill. The company blames the existing ground conditions, which have resulted in earthworks more expensive than anticipated. It comes as no surprise that this has put extra pressure on the delivery teams. In fact, there have been many alerts regarding the mental health conditions at Hinkley. Union leaders say there has been a surge this year in suicide attempts as a result of the pressure built-up. EDF has recognised the issue and has informed that they have put new measures in place to improve mental health. It’s great to see how the stigma around mental health is slowly disappearing.
And if you are interested in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction world, stay tuned to our blog at GlobalCAD for more trending project news!