A Day in the Life on the Exhibition Road Project: Luke Cripps

Toureen Group are a construction company specialising in demolition and excavation, and we have been solving complex construction problems for over twenty years. We were responsible for removing the 1970s buildings in the V&A’s ‘Boilerhouse Yard’, and we are now undertaking the big ‘dig’ to create the new subterranean exhibition gallery for the Museum.

We are very proud of our team and in particular Luke Cripps who has been an Assistant Site Manager for almost a year at this prestigious project. Luke has seen the project develop from the demolition and underground preparation works through to its current stage of excavation and propping of the heritage structures. Read on to share his experience.

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Luke on the Exhibition Road site in February 2015. © Victoria & Albert Museum

As Assistant Site Manager, I am responsible for site team management, inductions, site supervision and logistics, Health and Safety auditing and general project support.

My day starts at 7.00 am issuing work site permits. As you can imagine, safety is a critical element of our work and at 7.30 am the whole site team attends a Safe Start meeting. A site member is not allowed to pick up a tool without a permit and full participation in a completed Safe Start briefing. We will discuss the day ahead, Health and Safety, operations, team jobs and project specifics. Throughout the day, I will regularly supervise safety, site and work areas ensuring that Toureen’s and the client’s high standards of Safety and Quality are maintained. I will also manage logistics for the site, including booking in required materials as deliveries need to adhere to the delivery restrictions and protocol. There is a logistics meeting every day at 15.00 with the booking-in team to discuss expected deliveries; this is to make sure we don’t clash with the logistic needs of other companies who share the site with us.  I will stay in constant contact with our Client, who needs to be updated on any site changes to be considered or resolved. At the end of the day, I will carry out a site walk-around and check that all work stations are cleared and tools are put away. At 17.30 all permits are collected and signed off to confirm all works were carried out correctly. At 18.00 the site is closed and I will brave my way home on the tube.

As with all projects there can be challenges and certainly for this site the biggest is the logistics. We are working on a Grade II listed building that is one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Additionally, we are surrounded by these protected buildings. Being located in a heavily pedestrianized and built up zone, even receiving construction materials is a not a simple task. Even though the job scale is large, the site itself has numerous confined spaces to work within, being in Central London! So we have to be extra careful in selecting and operating our machinery.

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Birds eye view of the site in early March. All components, from the steel rebar, machines and tools must be carefully organised on site at all times. ©Victoria & Albert Museum

There are lots of project highlights for me. I have seen all aspects of different construction disciplines such as demolition, piling (inserting reinforced concrete columns into the ground to create a water tight structural box for the underground gallery space), excavation, and major temporary works. The eye-opening moment for me is seeing 11 tonnes of steel above my head, supporting walls in a listed building. I have witnessed the thought process that has gone into this large scale project and my brain has been like a sponge taking it all in.

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Image of current excavation progress and prop installation on site, taken from timelapse camera in March 2015. ©Victoria & Albert Museum

 

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Visualisation of deep basement excavation ©Wates Construction

 

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Visualisation of the steel structure for the gallery roof. Construction will commence after completion of excavation. ©Wates Construction

The key skills that are needed for my role are team building, consideration and communication. My job can change day to day, so being able to adapt to a fast moving environment is important. It means a lot to me to keep up camaraderie with colleagues and I enjoy working with them. I also need to be considerate at all times to the local environment, the surrounding buildings, the public, the client and our colleagues.

I am proud to be working on such a prestigious project and it’s been an excellent opportunity for me to grow and further develop in my role.  Once the project is completed, I will certainly be visiting the underground gallery space as I have been part of it all.  It will be exciting to see the final results of all the hard work from everyone involved!

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