Simon Castle, managing director of Chisholm & Winch, the construction company responsible for delivering Hope Street, discusses the unique culture that has helped the construction project align with the aims of the project.
Being passionate about what we do is an integral part of delivering excellent standards of quality, project management and safety on any construction project. But, sometimes, we have the privilege to work on a project where the outcome really matters not only for the client, but also for the people who will occupy the building throughout its lifespan. Hope Street is just such as project.
Across the team, we are inspired by and invested in the project because it’s clear that the calibre of the buildings is intrinsically linked to the aims and ethos of the project. With every element of these buildings, we have the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of the women and children who will be supported by this extraordinary initiative, so getting every detail right has become much more than meeting quality assurance standards; it’s become a commitment to creating a special place where people can rebuild their lives.
Collaboration has been at the heart of that process, and we have leveraged the collaborative culture at Chisholm & Winch to ensure a positive, can-do approach on site. Our company has been built on an honest, no-nonsense approach to construction, with open communication and a solutions-focus to overcoming the challenges that occur as a natural part of any construction programme. On the Hope Street project, that positive mindset, willingness to co-operate and open communication has been amplified throughout the delivery chain; from the One Small Thing team and the design teams at architects, SNUG, and landscape architects, Harris Bugg Studio, through to our subcontractors and suppliers.
Collaboration has been embedded in the success of the project from the outset. One of the key priorities has been to keep the project moving and apply creative thinking and innovative delivery models in order to provide workable solutions. For example, we delivered the foundations package to ensure that construction could start on site as soon as possible, staggering the contract alongside phases of the work to keep progress fluid.
We worked closely with the One Small Thing team on procurement of the timber frame and appointment of Eurban, the subcontractor that has delivered the CLT structure for the Hub building, once again ensuring that the programme remained on track and that the principles of trauma-informed design are translated to the built asset on site.
The natural materials and textures that form such an important element of the design intent for the Hub are central to principles of creating a building that is nurturing and promotes a sense of safety and wellbeing. Our goal has been to deliver the project to a high standard respecting the materiality and focus on natural light and connectivity to the outdoors, while identifying any opportunities for cost and time savings. As a result, value engineering has been a continuous process in collaboration with One Small thing, the design teams, our own site personnel and our subcontractors.
This outcome-focused approach has enabled us to develop suggestions for simplifying details and to propose innovative alternatives to materials and techniques that save time, reduce costs and ensure robust quality on site. Sometimes, the suggestions we have made have been agreed by all parties, sometimes, they have been considered and rejected in favour of the original specification. What’s been inspiring in both scenarios is that all the professionals involved have left their egos at the door and worked with the client to provide their best advice based on optimising the outcome for the end users.
In harmony with the ethos of the project and the spirit of collaboration, value engineering has been undertaken on a gain share basis, with the benefits of any cost savings reducing the spend on the project. Further savings have been made by paying close attention to procuring each of the construction packages in as much detail as possible, avoiding waste and enabling us to keep a very tidy site throughout the programme.
Every member of the team has been meticulous in taking care of materials as they have arrived on site, and we are proud to have brought together a team of professionals who have all embraced the aims of the project and the need to deliver a truly inspirational facility for the women and children who will be supported by Hope Street.
Chisholm & Winch has been involved in community and charity projects before, so this is not the first time we have been part of delivering a project that began as a big idea and became a special space that will transform lives. But, with the handover of the first residential spaces now imminent, it’s clear that this will be an extraordinary project that the whole delivery team will be proud of for years to come.