Date: Thursday 9th February 2017
Based in Norwich, The Enterprise Centre capitalises the interface between business and academia and needed a minimalist building capturing the relationship between place and people. The result is an award-winning building (20 awards to date and continuing) delivered (as recommended by UEA estates director Roger Bond) through a collaborative ethos led by John French from project start. As the building has extensive coverage in technical journals the current Roundtable focused on the project’s collaborative approach.
The resulting project relied on a European funding bid and used RADAR as a collaborative tool with monthly questions to show better or worse trends and give data to answer the question of “What do we do when things go wrong?”,
The Enterprise Centre project used RADAR from June 2012 until May 2015 and its use made a significant contribution as a collaborative tool. The most value-added stages of the RADAR process were at Stage D value engineering (critical stage), during commercial negotiations, in discharging the planning requirements and throughout the project as an early warning system. RADAR acted as the means of finding out what the team was thinking through ResoLex generated confidential and anonymous questionnaires to each team member and then processed by ResoLex to produce monthly reports for each team member and overall team use. The main overall risk chart for the project – showing high to low risk and risks getting better or getting worse – was a key control document for the team at the monthly project team meetings. In creating the required collaborative culture, it was important to capture “Project successes” in addition to concerns and risks. Throughout the project focus was on collaboration and the RADAR reports had a key role at the regular workshops.
The project was high profile in delivering a world class building and as the means of forming a gateway to the university and connecting the UEA’s masterplan. It achieves its aim of a major conference venue and exemplary workplace and teaching and learning environment. Reviews acclaim the building as a truly exciting piece of architecture. Key to its success is the building’s exemplary architectural environment with Passivhaus verification, BREEAM outstanding, 100-year life, soft landings performance, 3-year post occupancy evaluation, embodied carbon results, its high use of renewable materials incorporating traceability of timber frame superstructure and the focus on local supply chains. The building is not high maintenance.
Acclaimed by supply chain analysts, the ‘Grown in Britain Campaign’ praises the builidng as capturing the aesthetics of sustainable architecture. Art is an important ingredient of the completed building. “It is little wonder that the building has had high press coverage.” Students come into the building in preference to other parts of the UEA university. Those coming into the building like the “smell” of the building from its natural materials.
Such an exemplary building needed a collaborative team. Having delivered the building collaboratively the challenge is for collaboration to continue as the driver for the in-use, operational stage.
The 20 awards won so far have come from the team’s inspiration to enter the building for awards. This enthusiasm shows no sign of abating.
Collaboration is not easy, particularly the commercial aspects. The formation and involvement of the user group was critical and its role vital in creating a building without boundaries and an inspiring place to work. A vetting process is in place to screen tenants.
For most of the time the NEC contract, used to administer the building contract, was “kept in the drawer.” “The team created its own culture.”
The single point delivery model used to appoint the contractor had built into it a cost review and design review process. the preparation of the brief was a joint client-consultants process. There was a selection panel of 8 people. The selection process started with 12 at prequalification stage and moved to 6 for the final selection. Cost was 40% of the overall assessment. The final cost was £17.7 m for a 3,500 square metres, high calibre building delivered with innovation as the key driver. The 15% increase in outturn cost was value for money.
Taking the brief into the marketplace was a team effort from a collaborative team. There were interviews as teams. A collaborative working facilitator and collaborative working workshops were critical. Money spent in these areas gave a big payback. The result was the embedding of the necessary collaborative culture. It was challenging particularly the value engineering challenges. It was commendable that the contractor stepped back at stages to allow the project manager to take the lead.
The RADAR system helped in keeping control. The RADAR results charts were a key tool in the collaborative process particularly the ability to pick up an issue early and talk about it, resolve it, and get feedback that the solution has worked. “The RADAR reports are a mine of information.” Everyone has a voice.” One way of describing RADAR is as “confidential data collection with no individual contact with panel members.” “RADAR reflecting back uncomfortable discussions was an important factor in delivering an exemplar building through collaborative working.” “It was a team effort with 50 people signing up to a charter. The project had a strong ethos. However complete end-user involvement was vitally important and there were serious conversations with and contributions from non-team players.” “It is an exemplar innovative NEC project.”
“The energy-use graph is interesting. A building should not be using energy. It should be producing energy!”