Co-operative HQ

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BAM Construct UK designed and built One Angel Square - the new headquarters for the Co-operative Group in Manchester. The scheme has secured three Gold Awards from the Considerate Constructors Scheme at its annual National Site Awards. BAM discusses the project with Industry Image.

Please can you describe the project you worked on?

The Co-operative Group invested £116m in the construction of One Angel Square, its new headquarters in Manchester. The first phase of its redevelopment and regeneration of a 20-acre site located at the northern gateway to Manchester city centre, known as NOMA, will bring new business, residential and leisure facilities to the area.

One Angel Square provides a total of 327,643 sq ft of space - approximately 29,000 sq ft per floor - across 16 floors. It is a three-sided structure, with a fully glazed double skin facade that curves both horizontally and vertically around the building.

It is one of the first buildings in Europe to achieve an 'Outstanding' BREEAM rating.

BAM Construction was appointed by The Co-operative Group as its main contractor in 2009, bringing its extensive expertise in sustainability to this environmentally outstanding project. In addition, BAM shared the Co-op's vision to support the local community by leaving a lasting legacy and established a number of employment and community initiatives to achieve that aim.

Designing One Angel Square involved understanding an entirely new way of working for Co-op staff, who now fit within a more flexible structure with approximately 3,500 staff sharing 2,800 desks in the building at an occupational level of 85%.

Traditional storage methods for paper documents - including filing cabinets - are no longer appropriate. The Co-operative has instead arranged for huge volumes of documents to be scanned, digitised and made available online.

The principal building design was modelled digitally in 3D at tender stage and BAM realised that a project of such complexity provided an opportunity to implement varying levels of BIM, the building informational modelling process, not only for the design but also for planning, logistics, construction methodology and health and safety.

Specialist services were supplied by Buro Happold for structural and fire engineering and Austrian-based Waagner Biro was commissioned to build the double skin façade.

The steel-framed structure is supported by cores at each corner and was constructed around a central atrium.

In addition to the office space for the Co-operative's 3,500 head office employees, the building also incorporates a reception area and cafe, meeting rooms, a restaurant and a car park.

The building has a huge array of energy efficient features designed to enable the Co-operative Group to minimise its carbon footprint. They include an on-site combined heat and power plant fuelled by plant oil grown on The Co-operative's own farms, extensive heat recovery and free cooling applications with combined used water and rain water recycling.

One Angel Square was handed over to the Co-operative in late 2012 and was subsequently sold in a £142m sale and leaseback deal to RREEF Estates, the property investment arm of Deutsche Bank and Ginko Tree Investments, an investment vehicle backed by the Chinese sovereign wealth fund.

BAM Construction has since completed the landscaping surrounding this new landmark building.

How have you incorporated the Scheme into your site?

The principles which guide all of BAM Construction's work mirror and complement the requirements of the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

In the construction of One Angel Square, BAM also incorporated The Co-operative Group's own high standards of sustainability, environmental responsibility and excellent working practices.

All of BAM's staff worked hard to minimise the impact of a significant and substantial construction site on the surrounding area, a growing mix of residential and commercial buildings.

BAM was conscious that it needed to work in a way that would not have an adverse impact on the lives of local residents, notwithstanding the fact that the scale of the construction site meant that it would not be possible to completely shield them from the construction work being carried out.

An open evening was held for local residents every six weeks to explain how One Angel Square was being built and how it was progressing. They along with other local stakeholders were also given regular opportunities to visit the site during construction, providing them with an opportunity to learn about various technical aspects of the scheme and many of the environmental and sustainable innovations which would ultimately see One Angel Square awarded many accolades.

Regular and open channels of communication with the local community were a key component of BAM's strategy to minimise disruption with 19 newsletters issued and distributed.

From the start of the project BAM worked with The Co-operative Group to set tough and challenging community aims along with education and employment targets.

Community aspirations were met in part with BAM working extensively with Lifeshare, a local homeless charity, which benefitted from renovated office space and volunteers. It also worked with Friends of Angel Meadow to improve a local park. BAM contributed a total of 680 volunteering hours and raised £21,535.65.

In terms of education The Co-operative Green Schools Revolution programme was brought to life using the building as a case study in bringing sustainability to life and a Manchester school won a bespoke tour of the building. It also supported a project designed to enable pupils of The Co-operative Academy of Manchester to design and build a shelter for themselves within the school grounds.

A target was set for the number of students and young unemployed to be shown around the site to open up work and career opportunities within the construction industry – this was exceeded with over 1100 seeing One Angel Square at various points in the construction process

As part of this local employment initiative, BAM and the Co-operative established an apprenticeship scheme to provide appropriate educational opportunities to increase the skill level of the Manchester community. In total, over 900 people were trained on site as bricklayers, joiners, engineers and trainee site managers.


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Apprentices - One Angel Square

It also included creating opportunities for local people from different backgrounds - positions were offered to people who had been long term unemployed with a history of homelessness and some ex-offenders - ten progressed into full time employment with others gaining valuable work experience.

BAM recruited 54% of the workforce from Greater Manchester; 108 contracts were awarded to Greater Manchester contractors.

Updates were produced every three months to score actual achievements against stated aims. Not every target was hit but the targets BAM and the Co-operative Group set were particularly high.

As far as the project team was concerned the main focus was to ensure that the environment on-site was as safe, comfortable and as clean as possible so that the workforce felt respected and part of the team.

This was achieved through constant engagement and continual improvement in the standards of site accommodation and welfare.

Since the beginning of the project, what challenges have you faced?

The most significant challenge BAM faced was minimising the impact of a construction project on the scale of One Angel Square in a residential area on the edge of a busy city centre.

The pace of construction presented other challenges.

At the height of the work there were 800 operatives and staff on site, generating a lot of traffic and potential disruption which we were able to minimise.

We needed to think about whether we had adequate parking space around the site.

In an average day, the site was visited by around 100 wagons. Large quantities of building waste had to be handled correctly.

How have you been able to overcome these?

Careful planning, being considerate and devising innovative solutions to potential problems were the key to tackling every challenge.

Works always started at 8am and would finish by 6.30pm, even though staff arrived earlier and often worked in the offices later than that.

BAM was creative in the ways that it minimised noise and other disruption, one example being the use of an alternative method of steel erection which did not require the use of a traditional wrench method, which generates a lot of noise.

Work done at weekends would start later. BAM communicated with local residents through the monthly newsletter, advising them about what was happening and asking them whether they had any areas of concern. BAM also made a point of advising wagon drivers arriving early to switch their engines off while they waited.

Although there were a few complaints, these were not due to the work that BAM was doing, but as a result of work being done by others nearby.

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Alessandra Ozuzu putting the finishing touches to her Co-operative Academy shelter

Could you detail a few examples of good practice you have put in place on site?

Partners in the project worked hard to build a team and that was inclusive of the subcontractors. The project team held weekly meetings to keep everyone informed of the project's status. Subcontractors were invited to monthly progress meetings.

To encourage 'team building' partners in the project ran a number of initiatives, including charity abseiling events.

On-site welfare and support facilities included an occupational health nurse, an on-site chiropodist, financial help and advice, a site tool hire shop and a canteen.

BAM created an environment that was as nice as possible for the people who worked there - if there's a positive work environment, people respond positively.

Any other comments?

Tony Grindrod, construction manager at BAM responsible for the One Angel Square project says:

"We scored highly in the Considerate Constructors Scheme because we involved everyone in it, whoever they were on site. It was about everybody who worked there having a real interest and it really helped that the vast majority of those who worked on the project, were happy to be there.

"The Co-operative was an excellent client to work with on an excellent project. They gave us a lot of support and at the end of each year, the Co-op's representative would send something over which I could hand out as a 'thank you' to employees.

"The CCS is something that people do buy into. It's now the norm - it's now a habit, having a job that looks right, and has good health and safety practices in place.

"BAM has high scoring aims. We think it's the right thing to do and that says a lot about us as a company. We think about the impact we are having and we are proud to have delivered One Angel Square."