Construction News Award Winners – VolkerFitzpatrick: Project of the Year (under £15m)

“Industry problem-solving at its very best” was how the judging panel summed up VolkerFitzpatrick’s Stratford Retaining Wall in naming it Project of the Year (under £15m).

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This year’s category proved to be one of the most competitive on record, with the judges commending aspects of every single finalist and debating long and hard over the ultimate winner.

However, the substantial amount of value created for its client Lendlease, combined with its exemplary approach to health, safety and sustainability, saw VolkerFitzpatrick edge in front to clinch this year’s prize.

Lendlease brought in VolkerFitzpatrick to design, supply and install a 305m-long retaining wall on the southern boundary of its International Quarter development in east London, adjacent to Docklands Light Railway and Network Rail lines.

Of three outline designs developed at tender, the preferred option was a reinforced concrete wall that minimised distances from a high-voltage cable, a major sewer and the boundary fence to the DLR, just 4.5m away.

VolkerFitzpatrick’s design allowed the wall and parapet to be realigned by up to 6m, which in turn enabled Lendlease to create 5,000 sqm of additional developable space. So significant was this added value that Lendlease’s masterplan had to be revised, thereby allowing for a 30 per cent increase in the floorspace of those buildings adjacent to the wall.

“VolkerFitzpatrick delivered a brilliant example of how designers and constructors can add value for clients. This project demonstrates industry problem-solving at its very best” - Judges’ comment

Health and safety represented a major challenge on this site given the close proximity of rail lines and pedestrians, not to mention work at height. 

VolkerFitzpatrick collaborated extremely closely with Network Rail and employed a 160-tonne GPS-assisted crane to reduce the risk for operatives.

The contractor also worked with a specialist tethering company and bought £1,000 of new equipment for its subcontractor aimed at preventing tool drops from height; these measures have now become best practice across the business.

The project saw zero RIDDORs during 88,920 worker-hours and, collaborating with Lendlease, several best practice videos produced that are now used as standard by both firms.

Judges lavished similarly high praise on VolkerFitzpatrick’s sustainability efforts. The wall reused excavated material as backfill, saving 9,875 vehicle movements – equal to 220,000kg of CO2.

The team also avoided having to import any prime aggregates and the 5,500 cu m of concrete required was all batched within 3km of the site.

The judges said the end result offered a brilliant showcase of the value that proactive and innovative contractors can offer their clients.