This project for soft and hard landscaping in the heart of Coventry University was awarded to McPhillips as principal contractor on a JCT 2016 Design & Build contract. The 2,200m2 site was formerly home to the Alan Berry building which had recently been demolished to make way for open green space making the campus more accessible and enhancing views of Coventry Cathedral and providing a home for a new “Phoenix Tree” sculpture, paying tribute to the city’s history, by local artist George Wagstaffe.

Importation of subsoil and topsoil across the site was required to raise levels by an average of 500mm before amenity and wildflower turfing was carried out to create terraced green spaces.  Paving occupies 580m2 with a mix of clay blocks, sandstone and concrete slabs. New planted beds were created over 234m2 for trees and shrubs.  Ducting was installed for water and electrical supplies for irrigation, lighting, CCTV and a remote public call point linked to the University.  New lighting columns were erected and pre-cast concrete steps were constructed along with a new granite faced pre-cast concrete plinth and feature lighting to support the sculpture.

The challenges
The main challenge facing our delivery team was the fact that the site is in a constrained, sensitive location between University buildings and the historic Coventry Cathedral with significant footfall from students and visitors and a number of special events including graduation ceremonies taking place in the immediate surroundings so we needed to plan to accommodate these and keep disruption to a minimum.

The permanent provision of water and power to the site was from existing services in the Reception area of a nearby University building so careful planning was required to avoid disrupting users of this building.

The solutions
We liaised regularly with the University Estates team briefing them of our activities in-advance and arranged two weeks site stand-down during the graduation weeks when the area around the Cathedral was heavily used for photography.  Work in the building lobby was pre-arranged, signed and guarded.

We managed a series of low impact safe systems of work to reduce disruption on the area and paving material cutting took place in tented stations to suppress noise and dust.  We utilised existing timber hoarding left from the demolition contract providing a secure and visually appealing perimeter to the site.

Access to the site was strictly controlled along Priory Street for HGV’s and mobile cranes and a set-down area was created enabling vehicles to load and unload away from the highway. All vehicles were brought to site by our banksmen or public marshals.

The result
The project was completed within the 18 week programme and contract budget and  received positive feedback through the University’s senior project manager’s comments; “We found that from inception to completion of the project they worked effectively to programme, were transparent and communicated clearly. The on-site management team created good working relationships between all parties on the project and managed the whole scheme in a very safe, tidy, productive, and efficient manner within a highly populated pedestrianised area fronting the Cathedral, allowing the University to carry on business as usual, with all works carried out to a very high standard. It was a pleasure to work with them and I would recommend McPhillips for future projects.”

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