Clarkebond shortlisted for 2018 Building Award

Clarkebond are thrilled to have been selected as a finalist in the 2018 Building Awards.  The shortlisted entry is in the Small Projects Category and is for the Being Brunel museum in Bristol, which sits on the harbourside alongside the SS Great Britain.

“There is a real sense of aptness about being recognised in this award”, comments James Edmonds, Clarkebond’s Project Engineer.  “This project pays homage to the life and legacy of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of engineering's greatest minds, and the project itself is the story of great engineering achievement.” 

The challenge was to re-create the historical dockside feel on the landward side of the site, to enhance the feeling of being immersed in a Victorian dockside cameo, and then to have a contemporary 21st C elevation to the harbourside to reflect the current harbour developments.  An inordinate number of challenges were overcome to deliver this vision for the building.  Almost any other project would have been re-located but an integral part of the vision was to site the new museum on the exact location of Brunel’s former office and place of work.

The original design of the building by others incorporated the use of bored piles across the full width of the building, with the main structure baring down across them evenly. By re-engineering the design, Clarkebond:

  • Reduced pile numbers by 50%
  • Moved piles away from historic harbour wall by cantilevering foundations, removing any temporary works requirement
  • Raised the underside of foundation to reduce cart away of non-hazardous material
  • Introduced hidden columns to remove requirement of stainless tension systems to support suspended first floor
  • Re-designed main roof trusses with hollow sections rather than solid bar drastically reducing their weight
  • Generally reduced steel weights throughout the frame
  • Utilised a diaphragm roof thus removing hot rolled bracing

The client was delighted with the outcome.  “Being Brunel has exceeded all our expectations. A great job on what was a tricky project with many constraints – not least because we were open for business throughout the construction period! We were particularly pleased with Clarkebond who redesigned the foundations and steel frame to bring the scheme within budget and made it much easier to build.” Mike Day, Client Project Manager, SS Great Britain Trust.

This re-design saved £500k for the client and with a total budget of £3m, was the difference between the project being viable or not.

“It is very satisfying to know that this building is now an integral part of the Bristol cityscape, viewed by over 150,000 visitors each year and will stand as testament to our hard work and ingenuity,” concludes James.

Client: SSGB Trust
Principal Contractor: Beard
Architect: Alec French Architects
Structural/Civil Engineers: Clarkebond
Building Services Consultant: Max Fordham
Quantity Surveyor: Chappell