Site Life Q&A - Cambridge House

Posted by Interaction on 04/09/2017

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Site Life: a look behind the scenes of the Cambridge House transformation 

If you haven’t seen the extraordinary workplace Interaction created for Clarendon Business Centres read the case study here.

In this edition of Site Life, we talk to Project Manager Mike Borne, who discusses what it was like working on-site on the exciting Cambridge House project in Bath. 13,000 sq ft is not the largest project to undertake, however when it is split across six rapidly deteriorating floors requiring a significant amount of CAT A works, as well as high-spec, bespoke CAT B works, you have a challenge on your hands.

Q. What were the hardest things to overcome in this project? 

The nature of the building itself presented us with many hurdles. It’s an old building, with no raised access floors, and very outdated mechanical and electrical services. These needed stripping out and replacing with a much more efficient and modern system, which included craning the old mechanical plant from the roof and replacing it with a new cutting-edge VRF system. 

When it came to installing the brand new mechanical, electrical, fire and data we had to fit this all into a very compact space to maintain the ceiling height of all rooms, which proved to be a technical and very complex task. In the majority of buildings we have the luxury of large ceiling voids to provide these services to individual rooms, but in this case we had to deliver with the same level of detail but split into 70+ separate rooms that did not even exist in the first place.

Q. What was the journey like to snag free?

The journey required consistent attention to detail and quality control from start to finish. This meant contractor meetings once a week at a minimum, with a strict handover process from the contractors to ourselves. 

The project really was a continual snagging session. One thing we did that helped with this was programming the works to the floors incrementally, starting from the top. This meant that once one floor was completed, we could begin snagging on the top whilst we still had the trades on lower floors.

Q. Is anything still going on onsite? 

There are no works still going on as it’s all finished and handed over, but towards the end of the project it was decided that it would be fantastic to utilise the roof space. We promptly drew up some architect plans for a decked terrace area and instructed a structural engineer to look at the feasibility, which all came back positively.

We are expecting planning permission imminently and will have a team there as soon are we are granted permission. The roof terrace will be an additional breakout area with planters and lounge seating.

Q. How was the relationship with the client?

Overall, the relationship with the client was excellent and we all really enjoyed working with people who share the same attention for detail. Throughout the project we had continuous design meetings and meetings on-site, and their involvement and collaboration ensured that the finished product was exactly what they needed and wanted. 

Something that really impressed us was Clarendon’s obvious desire for quality; for example, in design meetings we would provide physical samples of every product or finish as it was important for them to feel the quality of the product before signing it off.

One of the best moments of the whole project was watching the client cut into the ‘hat’ cake that we made for them on handover day. During the project, the client had said that if Interaction delivered snag free they would ‘eat their hat’. After a lot of hard work and detailed snagging sessions, we declared the project snag free with the client. Naturally, on the day of handover we baked a ‘hat’ cake to celebrate, that was inevitably eaten!

Now that the project is completed, Clarendon have expressed an interest to sample the pubs around Bath and we’re definitely up for being the tour guides…