Techniques may change but we will always need to Plan

18/01/2017

If there is one important thing in any construction project, it is the need for perfect planning. Whether it is ensuring that you stick to budget, that you get the project finished within timelines – or even that you get the project finished at all, the key to it all is thorough research and planning.

Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre

Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre

The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre at Oxford University`s Worcester College is a great example of how the right planning managed to keep the whole project on course. With a number of challenges thrown at them, constructors Beard, and architects, Niall McLaughlin Architects are managing to overcome the obstacles to see their project, through to success.

The auditorium and conference centre is located amongst Grade I listed buildings in the grounds of Worcester College, and the intent was to create a building which both fits in with its traditional surroundings, yet stands out as an impressive building. The way that the architects have achieved this is through a clever mix of modern and tradition materials and design ideas.

The architects took ideas from another project of theirs – the Stirling Prize-nominated Bishop Edward King Chapel at Ripon Theological College – with its limestone facades, timber roof and ceiling structures and tapered stone mullions. Teaming these with modern materials such as glass and reinforced gypsum, the architects are managing to creating a truly unique building that sits perfectly in its surroundings.

Problems

There are few construction projects which don`t present one problem or another, and this one is no different. There are always going to be issues when working with a number of different materials and getting them to integrate seamlessly. And the potential for problems are only increased when you are working with a mixture of old and new materials.

However, by proper research and understanding of the materials, which is then translated into the planning of the project you can begin to resolve problems and reduce the risk of other issues.
There are, of course, some issues that are unforeseen – for example, in this project, the glazing installer went into liquidation. Thanks to an intricate planning process of several months, and good knowledge of the design and materials, they managed to install the stonework out of sequence.

Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre 2

Limestone

The limestone which was chosen for this project was Clipsham limestone – from the Stamford Stone quarries north of Peterborough. It is known for being used at Windsor Castle and York Minster, as well as many buildings in the Oxford area. The architects decided on the use of Clipsham Limestone due to its visual appearance, local use and suitability for the project.

Modern techniques were used to plan every single block which was cut to precision and laid by hand to ensure that the traditional limestone fitted perfectly to give the exact look that was desired.

With any construction project, there are going to be issues which cannot be avoided. But the key to a successful project is the way that you deal with these issues – and this comes in at the stage of planning the whole construction. As shown in the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre project, by properly researching and planning your design and materials, you can ensure that problems are reduced and resolved quickly and with as little impact as possible.

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