• Location

    Oxford

  • Contractor/Developer

    Exel Construction

  • Project Size

    Four apartment buildings

  • Build Time
    15 weeks

The project: Churchill Drive in Oxford, is the location for new keyworkers’ accommodation to house staff from the Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust. The project for OUH and housing provider A2Dominion was seen as ‘essential’ for recruiting and retaining staff. Four apartment blocks have been built as part of an expansion and modernisation programme on the Churchill Hospital site for onsite staff accommodation at OUH. The build comprised of 91 Bed Key worker accommodation, with communal kitchens. In total there are 19 clusters of 3 and 5 beds. Each cluster is serviced by a communal area including a kitchen.

The brief: This was our first project for Main Contractor Exel Construction, who required Fusion to provide the design, engineer, manufacture and build for the light steel frame superstructure for each of the apartment blocks (Block A is four storeys and Block B three storeys high). Exel required us to scope the steel structure, together with the load bearing walls and provide pre-insulated external walls.

Challenges faced:

  • A new supplier:contractor relationship with project teams new to each other’s systems and working practices
  • Short project timescales and delivery times on site restricted to between 9am and 3pm
  • Poor access with extremely tight turning into site which was off a busy main access road to a major general hospital
  • Coordination required with 3rd party specialist suppliers for balconies and cantilevered bay windows
  • Joint scheduling and communication of window deliveries for factory fit windows and EPDM
  • Very limited space to site the uprated cranes necessary to lift concrete stairs into position
  • Covid-19 Lockdown
  • Weather – high winds caused crane down time.

The solution: Early project involvement with all parties outlined clear lines of communication and enabled excellent ongoing co-ordination and communication. A BIM project approach ensured efficiencies on site and all parties were aware of their timely responsibilities. Exel brought us in at the design stage, allowing us to develop drawings of cut elevations which clarified the scheme and brought all aspects of the project together in advance. This resulted in all targets being met, with minimal waste in both time and resources. Units were manufactured off-site and installed with factory fitted windows.

Fusion utilised hot rolled steel elements as per the structural requirements and included:

  • A total of 1,044 Fusion Thermashield External Wall panels
  • Internal load bearing walls
  • Twin Party Walls
  • 454 Floor and Roof Cassettes.

Our on-site team worked closely with the third-party specialist sub-contractors and assisted in:

  • Lifting the balconies
  • Collaboration process for success
  • Installation of Bay windows
  • Loading Bathroom pods in position on all levels
  • Installation of the concrete stairs.

Successful delivery could not have been achieved without the commitment of all parties to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines, but despite the challenges, all work was completed on time and to the complete satisfaction of our Client.

Why the project was a success: Collaboration and communication throughout the project was key to its success:

  • Discussion and options at estimating stage
  • Pre-construction meetings and documentation gave clarity for design specification
  • Experienced engineers developed the design to the required exacting standards
  • Off-site manufacturing ensured the necessary precision engineering
  • Build on site was planned in detail, which enabled all resources to be put in place at the right time

Everyone across the project team regardless of which company they worked for adopted a collaborative approach. The Fusion estimators understood the project from the outset and provided options that would help all parties meet the brief for this challenging build. With regular virtual and onsite meetings to discuss the design and engineering specification, our pre-construction team were able to clarify details prior to manufacturing. Fusion Engineers worked in partnership with third party suppliers to ensure as much as possible would be built off site, for example the windows. Once the manufacturing process was complete, Fusion project managers liaised with the onsite team to ensure items were delivered and built to the specification agreed in the timescales required.

“Exel Construction have been working with off-site manufactured systems on our projects for over 15 years but this was the first time we have worked with Fusion and it was a very good experience. The Fusion team were well organised from start to finish and their side of the project was completed on time and within budget. It really was a smooth process, I liked the way the Fusion team co-ordinated with the lead project designers and third party sub-contractors to ensure everything was well-thought through and planned in advance. The collaboration was excellent, and Fusion delivered what they said they would. I would have no hesitation working with Fusion again.”

Michael LangleyAssociate Director, Exel Construction