Canary Wharf shows off its huge redevelopment of the Shell Centre on banks of the River Thames.
The first thing that strikes our Open Doors tour party as we look out over Canary Wharf Contractors’ Southbank Place site is its size – and the number of men working on it.
“We’ll have 1,600 people working on site at peak, and we’ve got 550-600 here now,” explains project director Richard Lines.
The redevelopment of the famous Shell Centre, located just behind the London Eye and with stunning views out over London’s iconic landmarks and the River Thames, is now in full swing, and has welcomed the public for Open Doors.
A total of eight people join our tour, a mixture of students and others interested in construction.
The group is shown a timelapse of the extensive work done so far, including a 4D BIM model of the planned work that is yet to be completed.
We then move out to a viewing platform to get an overview of the site’s footprint, and the numerous cranes and concrete cores that are already beginning to rise out of the ground.
After this, we move around to a building on the western side of the site, which will eventually be known as Belvedere Gardens once open.
Inside, we take a short ride in the hoist to the fifth floor, getting a glimpse of the view residents will eventually have of Jubilee Gardens and the London Eye, and we see how each of the buildings are progressing at different stages.
Dini, a 21-year-old civil engineering student at London South Bank University, has come to see what a live construction site is really like.
“It’s much more intriguing than I thought,” he says. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a site – it’s really big, and good to see what it’s really like.”
This is, of course, a particularly big development – but one where all of the site workers look to be moving with purpose, on what is a very tidy site.
“When I was at Southampton University years ago, we had to write our programmes by hand,” Mr Lines tells the group, imagining how long it would have taken to draw up the programme for a site like this. “The industry now is completely different, and everything is done much more quickly and safely.”
It’s a good message for the group to take away – that construction perhaps isn’t quite how you imagined it, demonstrated perfectly at Southbank Place.
Project: Southbank Place
Main contractor: Canary Wharf Contractors
Client: Braeburn Estates (Canary Wharf Group / Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company JV)
Start date: August 2015
Finish date: Autumn 2019
Steel frame subcontractor: Severfield
Concrete frame subcontractor: Expanded Group
Demolition subcontractor: McGee Group
Project value: £1.3bn