Civil engineers reveal top London projects of 2012


6 MARCH 2012

Thames Water Lee Tunnel Project receives Greatest Contribution to London Award

The Thames Water Lee Tunnel Project has been awarded the top trophy at the ICE London Civil Engineering Awards 2012. Thirteen infrastructure and building projects were shortlisted for the annual awards, delivered in association with Speedy. A total of six projects received honours including King’s Cross Station, the Blackwall Tunnel, Cannon Place and Exhibition Road. In addition to winning the overall award, the Lee Tunnel project also received the Infrastructure Award, sponsored by CH2M HILL.

Las Arenas in Barcelona received the ICE’s new 'Engineered in London Award, sponsored by Hays, which recognises the significance of work conducted by London’s civil engineers both nationally and globally.

Miranda Housden, Director of ICE London, said:
“London is a global hub for excellence in engineering design, both in terms of its own infrastructure and in terms of the achievements of London-based engineers internationally. All of the winning projects showcase the vital contribution that London’s engineers make to urban life. I congratulate all involved.”

Judgements on engineering excellence were based on criteria such as innovation, creativity, sustainability, health and safety and social value. Previous winners include the East London Line, the Olympic Park, the Thames Barrier, Heathrow Terminal 5A, Hampton Water Treatment Works and Wembley Stadium.

The ICE London Civil Engineering Awards 2012 winners are:

The Thames Water Lee Tunnel Project received the Greatest Contribution to London Award, in association with Speedy, and the Infrastructure Award, sponsored by CH2M HILL
Client: Thames Water
Project Manager: PMT (CH2M HILL)
Designer: Mott MacDonald, Morgan Sindall Underground Professional Services (UnPS), Bachy Soletanche
Contractor: MVB (a joint venture between Morgan Sindall, VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche

Construction of the Lee Tunnel is currently underway in East London. When operational in 2015, the four mile tunnel will capture the 16 million tonnes of untreated sewage currently discharged into the River Lee in a typical year from London’s largest single combined sewer overflow at Abbey Mills, greatly improving water quality. The Lee Tunnel's four shafts range in diameter from 20-40 metres and are the deepest ever built in London. The construction of the diaphragm walls, which support these shafts, was completed in December 2011. The design for the walls met stringent Eurocode standards, and materials used during construction, including the concrete mix, had to meet requirements set out by the Environment Agency to ensure they did not pollute a nearby drinking water aquifer. The use of nearby waterways to remove spoil from site further reduced the project's carbon footprint through minimising lorry journeys. Safety was the top priority, with all staff aligned to a "work safe home safe" ethos.

The judges said, “Sewers are unseen and taken for granted. Not only was the ambition of this project impressive but this relies on innovation which in turn relies on a real understanding of engineering skills and judgement.”

King’s Cross Station redevelopment package 6 won a Special Award for Re-engineering London

Completed: December 2011
Client: Network Rail
Engineer: Arup
Architect: John McAslan + Partners
Contractor: VINCI Construction UK
Partner: N.G. Bailey

King’s Cross Station Redevelopment Package 6 – which includes the construction of the new Western Concourse and its magnificent domed roof as well as the refurbishment of the historic Western Range Building – will ensure that King’s Cross Station is fit to serve London for many years to come. The project team collaborated to refurbish the Grade I Listed Western Range Building into a functional and modern space for station staff and passengers, while preserving and exhibiting the grandeur of the Victorian structure and its features. In parallel, the team worked to construct the new station concourse, featuring the already iconic semi-dome shaped steel lattice Western Concourse Roof, which will provide unequalled travel links to passengers using London’s busiest transport interchange. The project was completed to programme and within budget, and the entire station was kept operational and safe for station staff and passengers for the duration of the works.

Blackwall Tunnel Northbound Refurbishment won a Special Award for Re-engineering London
Completed: November 2011
Client: Transport for London
Engineer: Mott MacDonald
Contractor: BAM Nuttall
Subcontractor: VVB Engineering Services

The refurbishment of the northbound Blackwall Tunnel was completed in November 2011, over a year ahead of schedule and within budget. The essential safety improvements have brought the 114 year old landmark tunnel – which is used by 50,000 vehicles a day – up to date with modern safety standards, thus reducing the number of incidents that force the tunnel to close in future. The works included the refurbishment of the four main ventilation shafts and the installation of new lighting and CCTV, ventilation fans and communications systems throughout the tunnel. Measures such as a noise minimising membrane over works, reduced disruption to nearby residents and steps were made to cut the number of weekday night time closures. There was also regular engagement with the local community, including the burying of a time capsule made by local school children and regular liaison with the O2 Arena, to minimise disruption to people leaving events at the venue.

The judges were impressed by the way the teams on both projects worked hard to do a difficult job improving aged infrastructure without inconveniencing Londoners. They said, “Both projects took traffic arteries and brought these up to modern standards. The practical, organisational and co-operative arrangements were exemplary and enabled the facilities to stay operational which is a masterful achievement.”

Cannon Place received the Building Award
Completed: September 2011
Client: Hines UK
Engineer: Foggo Associates Ltd,
Contractor: Laing O’Rourke
Partners: Watsons Steel Structures Ltd, Expanded Piling, Robert Bird Group

The Cannon Place development has created over 39,000 square metres of office and retail space above and below Cannon Street Station in the City of London. The project comprised of the following: demolition of both the 16 storey 1960’s office building and much of the existing mainline railway station, the construction of a new eight storey air rights office block, and the reconfiguration of both the mainline and underground Cannon Street stations including new retail outlets within. A number of engineering and construction challenges faced the project team, such as the site’s location over and around the two important rail stations, which had to remain open throughout the course of the works, the proximity of the underground tunnel structures and the presence of significant archaeological finds within the existing railway arches. An innovative balanced cantilever design overcame the site constraints in order to maximize the development opportunity, whilst inventive piling and construction techniques enabled underground structures and much of the archaeology to be left undisturbed. Innovative analytical and construction methods kept the public and passengers safe whilst the project was built.

The judges said, “It has resolved the problems of this site tremendously elegantly by using a whole suite of engineering tricks and allowing people to carry on their business oblivious to 2.5million square feet of offices being built over their heads.”

Exhibition Road received the Community Award
Completed: December 2011
Client: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Engineer: Project Centre Ltd
Architect: Dixon Jones
Contractor: Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering
Project manager: Schal

The transformation of Exhibition Road has created a world class streetscape, replacing a street filled with clutter and vehicle traffic with a fully accessible kerb-free public space. A major destination since the Great Exhibition of 1851, Exhibition Road attracts over 11 million visitors each year and is home to a unique collection of cultural and educational institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall and Imperial College London. Through the project, pedestrians have more space and vehicle speeds are limited to 20mph. Having a less distinct ‘track’ for through traffic makes motorists drive more cautiously and slowly, with greater awareness and consideration for pedestrians. Sculptural street lighting ‘masts’ complement the grand buildings and the striking granite diagonal grid pattern reflects the way that pedestrians use the road and creates a sense of place. The project was completed in December 2011, on time and to budget.

The judges said, “We really liked Exhibition Road because for the first time in London it makes an attempt to rebalance people and vehicles. We would love to see the messages from that extended to the wider UK.”

Las Arenas, Barcelona won the Engineered in London Award, sponsored by Hays
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Completed: March 2011
Client: Metrovacesa
Engineer: Expedition Engineering, BOMA
Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Alonso Balaguer y Arquitectos Asociados
Services: BDSP and JG Ingenieros
Contractor: Dragados S.A.

Barcelona’s old bullring has been transformed into a major new arts, entertainment and retail centre that acts as a gateway into the City from the west and a landmark for the Plaça Espanya transport interchange. The fortress-like bullring has become accessible and welcoming, breathing new life into the old brick shell. The once-decaying masonry is now perched 5 metres above the old ground level, with another five storeys of newly excavated basements below. With a vibrant mix of arts, leisure, retail and office spaces, the development has been described by local press as Barcelona’s new “cathedral of leisure”. The work of the London based design team has been fundamental to the creation of this striking new landmark that celebrates both the historic façade and the stunning new elements within. Having been isolated and unused for some time, the revitalised cultural centre is now re-integrated into the city’s fabric and welcoming crowds again.

The judges said, “Through the will to adapt an obsolete yet iconic structure in one of Europe’s most important cities, the adoption of ingenious temporary works and construction sequences it has been turned into a multipurpose commercial centre and a huge social amenity.”

The judging panel for the ICE London Civil Engineering Awards 2012:

  • Sir Michael Bear, Managing Director, Balfour Beatty Property (late Lord Mayor of London)
  • Max Fordham, Founding Partner, Max Fordham LLP
  • Thomas Lane, Assistant Editor, Building
  • Helen Nattrass, Tunnel & Substructure Engineer, Sir Robert McAlpine
  • Chris Wise, Director, Expedition (chair of the awards)

An exhibition of all thirteen shortlisted schemes will take place from 10th – 31st May at the Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1E 7BT.

The full shortlist is listed below. Read more about them here:

  • BBC W1
  • Blackwall Tunnel Northbound Refurbishment
  • Cannon Place
  • Exhibition Road
  • Heron Tower
  • Kings Cross Redevelopment Package 6
  • Thames Water Lee Tunnel Project
  • Old Ford Waste Water Recycling Facility
  • The Shard
  • St Patrick’s Soho R.C. Church

The shortlist for the Engineered in London Award:

  • The Peace Bridge, Derry~Londonderry
  • Peter's Bridge, Norwich
  • Las Arenas, Barcelona