On a wet and warm morning in central London, Construction News kicked off Open Doors Week with a tour around Willmott Dixon’s new Ronald McDonald House in Lambeth.
The contractor is building what it calls a ‘home away from home’ for families whose children are being treated at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, located just down the road from the construction site.
Ronald McDonald Houses, of which there are currently 14 in the UK, provide free accommodation near hospital grounds for families of children undergoing treatment.
Open Doors 2016 Willmott Dixon Ronald McDonald House project in Lambeth 6
This particular building, known as Evelina House, will have 59 en-suite bedrooms as well as communal kitchens, lounges and playrooms. There are also two rooftop garden terraces.
Assistant build manager Sam Mallia led our tour, showing us the brickwork and stonework on the façade before taking us inside.
The ground floor is the least progressed area, with the site team currently carrying out plastering and tiling work on the upper floors of the four-storey building, before working down and out of the structure.
Our tour is taking place exactly 10 weeks to the day away from practical completion, with the pressure on to get the build finished on time without compromising quality – a core focus for the team.
We’re shown a ‘sample room’, a completed bedroom on the first floor, which was completed early on. Mr Mallia says this has helped give the client assurances about the finished quality. “It’s also something for us to live by, as we can make sure the quality is always as good as that sample room,” he says.
Open Doors 2016 Willmott Dixon Ronald McDonald House project in Lambeth 2
The biggest challenge has been posed by the tight site, as is often the case in central London, with just-in-time deliveries and careful logistical planning vital to making sure the job completes on time.
And the site’s location next door to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s home at Lambeth Palace has also required some careful stakeholder management.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to try and give students knowledge of what to expect on a construction site”
Sam Mallia, Willmott Dixon
The project began in July last year and is now in the home stretch, with the finishing touches beginning to be applied to many areas.
Later this week, the site will be open again with a tour of local UTC students.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to try to give them knowledge of what to expect on a construction site,” Mr Mallia says. “We can give them an idea of what’s out there – and then hopefully it won’t be as daunting if they want to go into the industry.”
Ronald McDonald Evelina House London
Contractor: Willmott Dixon
Client: Ronald McDonald House Charities
Concrete frame subcontractor: J Reddington
Structural engineer: Capita Group
Location: Lambeth, London
Start date: July 2015
Completion date: September 2016