Kier’s R7 development is just one of a number of live projects under way in the King’s Cross area.
After arriving at King’s Cross station, I make the 10-minute walk up York Way, past a number of developments that will be highlighted later on in Kier’s onsite briefing room. I, however, am heading for the R7 scheme off Handy Side Street.
The office block will rise to 11 storeys; the basement level will contain cycle storage, a spa and changing rooms. Office space will be situated from the first floor and above, and there will be a rooftop garden terrace incorporated into the final scheme.
On the ground floor will sit a boutique cinema, following by an additional eight to 10 levels of commercial accommodation – I’m told fashion outlet New Look has already booked out space for its new offices.
The construction team has had to keep an open mind on how design changes may be requested by the likes of New Look and other potential tenants.
Kier construction manager Perry Gibson says commercial developments are generally similar: lobby areas and open space; raised access flooring; a goods lift to get stuff in and out.
He informs me that the structural and temporary works on site have all been completed, and that any internal fit-out works can be changed later, if the need presents itself.
Open doors 2016 kier kings cross r7 1
Mr Gibson is first to greet me upon my arrival and immediately stresses the importance and significance of a dedicated approach to safety on the site: “A safe site is a productive site; you’ll get more from someone who’s happy.”
Indeed, as I sit and wait in Kier’s offices, it’s hard to miss the firm’s various safety achievements plastered over the walls, as well as a number of toolbox talks pamphlets on best practice, environmental issues, noise and vibration.
As we walk around the site, Mr Gibson laments that if we’d visited four weeks later we’d have been able to see the facade going on. At present, the concrete is being poured on each floor, with the use of large 6 m by 8 m tables.
“There are different aggregates, coming from different plants; if we’re in the middle of a pour, we have to keep it live and get replacements from different plants; it can be a headache”
Perry Gibson, Kier
These tables are used as each slab is added to the different levels, with the crane lifting them up to each floor as the concrete is poured. While Mr Gibson admits this isn’t exactly a modern innovation, the degree of safety now involved is the biggest difference from 20-30 years ago.
Not for the first time on a London site, the issue of logistics is cited as a particular challenge: “We’re talking big 40 ft wagons coming in with the loads,” Mr Gibson says.
“It’s the logistics of getting them in. There are different aggregates, coming from different plants; if we’re in the middle of a pour, we have to keep it live and get replacements from different plants. It can be a headache.”
We’re joined by graduate engineer Leo Halsey, who later mentions to me that Kier has its own initiative where representatives head out to local schools to get kids interested in the construction industry and, potentially, a future career.
Mr Gibson, however, is adamant that Kier’s approach to engagement isn’t just a one day or one week thing: “It doesn’t matter who you are; we have an Open Doors policy – you can always come and see us.”
R7 Kings Cross
Start date: May 2015
Completion date: June 2017