Construction Live field trip – Day 5

The final full day of building was a busy one for all of the teams.  The drainage and water utilities groups were able to finish laying and joining all their pipework, with the drainage team also installing a toilet ready to be connected to both the water supply and waste water drainage tomorrow.

Due to the very poor weather forecast, the bricklaying team were unable to build their walls on site as they were using a lime mortar that wouldn’t work well in very wet conditions, therefore they constructed their walls in exactly the same way they would have on site, but in one of the covered work areas instead.  It was disappointing to not be able to build the walls in situ but was still a great experience for the students who did an excellent job.

The carpentry team completed fixing the stud walls, then clad the external walls in plywood sheeting.  Once this was complete the walls were insulated, but again due to the poor weather it was not possible to plasterboard the walls.  The outside walls were clad in featheredge boarding, in two configurations, with a section left ready for the banner to be placed tomorrow.

Both the bricklayers and carpenters also took part in the steel fixing workshop to gain an insight into how reinforcing steel is fixed into concrete structures.

In the evening, we had a talk from Andrew Preece from Roger Bullivant, a foundation engineering company specialising in the design and construction of foundations for all types of buildings and structures in all kinds of ground conditions.  They built the foundation we have been working on all week on site so were able to explain how that was constructed as well as discussing other projects they are involved in.

Tomorrow is the final day of the field trip, all the works will be completed and the teams will have a chance to reflect upon what they have learnt this week and how it will help them in their careers in the future.

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Construction Live – Day 4

Busy site

Day 4 saw students arriving to a very wet and muddy site which added extra challenges to the construction activities. Before work could continue, the flooded trenches dug by the drainage and water utilities teams had to be pumped out due to heavy rainfall over night.  Once this was completed these teams were able to continue with the work they started yesterday, laying more pipework and drainage for the project.

The bricklayers spent the morning laying the brick and block floor on site ready for the wall construction tomorrow, this involved positioning the precast concrete beams and laying the blocks, some of which needed to be cut which a number of students were able to try.  The carpentry team transported all of the floor and wall panels that they had manufactured to site.  They positioned the floor units and joined them together, then laid a chipboard floor on top ready to start constructing the external and internal stud walls.

The afternoon was spent on further team building activities, one group tried their hand at archery whilst the others went canoeing or tackled the high ropes course at the activity centre.

Tomorrow the majority of the construction activities will be completed providing everything goes to plan ready for the conclusion of the project on Friday.

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Construction Live field trip – Day 3

Day three saw the most construction activity so far, the bricklaying team learnt the skills they will be using to construct the brick and block walls, from mixing mortar to laying bricks straight, level and plumb, building practice walls to test their skills.  They also spent time on the site to identify the challenges they will be facing allowing them to plan the rest of the week’s activities.

The water utilities group began installing the water supply using fusion jointing on all of the pipe work – an electromechanical system for joining pressurised pipework.  First a trench had to be dug which was completed by machine, with students having the opportunity to operate the digger under supervision.  The pipework so far was tested and luckily no leaks were found!  The team also got the opportunity to try their hand at some steel fixing operations.

The drainage group located and dug trenches both by hand and machine and laid granular bedding ready for the pipe work and began joining some of the pipe work. They learnt about how drainage works and the importance of correctly installing drainage on site.

The carpentry group spend the morning building the frames for the suspended timber floors, which consisted of 5 separate frames which will then be constructed on site, they then moved onto the wall frames, constructing the internal and external stud wall frames, which like the floors, will be transported to site to be put together.

In the evening, we had a talk from Chris Williams, director of Prolectric, a company focussing on the design and installation of a range of mechanical and electrical systems, based principally around renewable technologies or energy efficiency services.  Chris discussed the types of solar lighting they offer and the financial and environmental benefits thee offer over traditional methods, giving the students an insight into new renewable technologies that the construction industry can take advantage of.

Tomorrow the build continues as well as further team building activities in the afternoon, ready for the final full day of construction on Thursday.

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Construction Live field trip – Day 2

The second day started with an early visit to the site we are working on for the rest of the week, students are tasked with building a washroom and toilet block facility for a fictitious campsite using a number of different methods, the teams are split into the block and beam floor and wall team, the drainage team, the water supply team and the carpentry team.

The morning was spent being inducted into the site, having health and safety briefings and manual handling training and then splitting into the teams and beginning the task.  The carpentry team studied the drawings and prepared cutting lists ready to begin work tomorrow, the brick and block team planned their work and were familiarised with their materials, the water supply team learnt how to joint the pipework they will be laying and the drainage team had a steel fixing workshop in addition to planning their work.

In the afternoon, we visited two local construction sites to gain an understanding of how large scale construction works, being shown around by the project teams who explained all the different processes happening on site, this was a useful insight for the students and gave them an excellent opportunity to see how real construction sites operate.  Tomorrow the hard work begins with a full day of construction!

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Construction Live field trip – Day 1

All first year built environment students are away for a week of hands on construction activities at Construction Live, run by Bridgwater and Taunton College in Somerset.

We left on Sunday morning from Brighton, arriving at around 3pm ready for an afternoon of management and leadership skills training at the outdoor activity centre.  In 4 groups the students worked together to accomplish a number of tasks such as getting the whole team over a 10ft high wall, through a spider web of ropes only using each gap once and building a bridge using planks and poles without any one falling off (if they did the whole team started again!).  The tasks allowed the students to plan their approach, think about how they needed to work in a team and listen to all team members.  The afternoon was a great fun activity which really helped with teamwork and management, an essential skill in the construction industry.

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Our INTREPID Dr Mary Geary

Barcelona’s water of life: el agua de la vida!

Dr Geary travelled to Barcelona last month as part of an EU ‘Co-operation in Science and Technology’ initiative called the INTREPID training school. Here is her diary of the trip.

In the famous Catalan fairy story ‚‘The Water of Life‘, also known by its original name ‘El agua de la vida’, only the deliverance of the water of life, sourced from a magic spring in the hills, can save a family from being turned to stone by an evil giant. It is the daughter of the family who outsmarts the ogre and restores life with the water. The life of her own family, of her petrified neighbours and of her surroundings are all rejuvanated as the water she spills on the return from the mountain turns everything green and fecund and frees the people from the giant’s curse. That water is still seen as the very essence of Catalan life is clear throughout the urban fabric of its capital city.

Wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and the estuaries of the Llobregat and Besos rivers and with the Serra de Collserola mountain range as its backdrop, Barcelona is a water-centric city fiercely proud of its heritage. As the economic powerhouse of Catalonia, its historic wealth was built around its port, driving its shipping, mercantile, leather and textile industries. The evidence of that financial prowess – Barcelona’s architectural splendour – attracts millions of tourists every year. Power, water, wealth have historically connected together to forge a city of almost 2 million residents; whose population rises threefold every year with almost 6 million visitors per annum.

As one of those 6 million visitors I travelled to Barcelona in early February this year as part of an EU ‘Co-operation in Science and Technology’ initiative called the INTREPID training school. My fellow Sustainable Futures researchers and I were collaborating to work together in a four day workshop, sharing experiences and learning together how interdisciplinary collaboration is at the heart of undertaking sustainability research. Working across disciplines – we were a disparate group of ecologists, urban planners, civil engineers, environmental lawyers, social scientists amongst others –we discussed how it is possible to try to make connections amidst and outside of our own scientific perspectives to find holistic pragmatic solutions to urgent, real world problems. As a Research Fellow based in SET, understanding how communities understand, articulate and action changes in their local water environments is crucial. It helps me contextualise how macro influences are interpreted and responded to, and what steps and strategies policy makers and governance bodies need to undertake to make sustainability science comprehensible and relevant. Read More

Visit to Shoreham Port for Sustainability Students

Students studying Principles of Sustainable Construction took their lecture room outside today with a visit to Shoreham Port.

Tony Parker the Director of Engineering took students on a tour of the facility telling them how renewable energy powers the pump room and about the innovative way the port is moving towards zero carbon. As well as looking at and listening to the wind turbines, they were able to view the pump room where water levels are maintained in the canal. Students also saw how the raw products used in construction such as timber, steel and construction start their on-shore journey in the UK.