16th April 2021

Project Focus: The Spark, Newcastle

Project Manager Mark Robson shares an update from The Spark in Newcastle, our fourth project on the Newcastle Helix Science Park Development.

The Spark, Newcastle is our fourth project on the Newcastle Helix Science Park Development.

We've previously been involved on The Helix in constructing nearby developments, The Lumen, The Core and the Frederick Douglass Building.

Fact File

  • Sector: Commercial
  • Scope: Grade A offices over 12 floors providing 9,862m2 office space and a GIFA of 142,110ft2
  • Client: Legal & General
  • Contract: negotiated single stage tender JCT D&B contract
  • Dates: Commenced on site September 2019. Completion due September 2021.

Here Project Manager Mark Robson shares more.

Key milestones passed and upcoming

  • Structural steel erection completed with upper floor slabs cast
  • Internal fitout progressing at pace
  • Façade curtain walling and rainscreen installation on-going. Red aluminium feature cladding installation due to progress shortly
  • Multi-storey car park groundworks on-going 

Key project challenges

  • Tight site footprint, surrounding buildings and nearby student community (close to public spaces)
  • Maintaining vehicular access directly through construction site between Spark building and MSCP for Lumen fit out contractors

Innovative design and collaborative working 

The SparkThe Spark project team used innovative design and worked collaboratively with key members of the supply chain when considering how to install the permanent handrail at the same time as the precast stairs and landings into the 12 storey concrete cores. Through careful planning and management of the design, the solution reduced health and safety risks whilst providing a substantial benefit to the construction programme.

By developing a casting socket into the precast stairs when they craned the stairs into position, they were able to drop the handrails into position too, reducing three months' work to 10 days per core. The team have scored additional points with the Considerate Constructors Scheme for this and the following:

  • Empatica epilepsy watch – implemented for use by a team member who suffered from epilepsy. The watch monitors when a seizure occurs and sends text messages to key members of the site team who can quickly attend to help the staff member suffering the seizure.

  • Mastclimbers - bespoke trays fabricated in aluminium and installed between gap in handrail to building, designed to reduce risk of falling objects during façade installation.

During the start of lockdown last year, the team were right in the middle of constructing the concrete core and slipform works. Managing the approximately 30 operatives working on the slipform whilst maintaining social distancing was challenging.  Following a period of suspended works due to lockdown, we worked closely with Slipform International and Moortown to develop a method statement that included introducing staff and operative rotas to ensure work could progress again safely. We were one of the only projects at the time working on a slipform so I'm proud we found a solution to get back up and running again.

Mark Robson, Sir Robert McAlpine, Project Manager

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