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What’s Hot? ARM Holdings HQ, Lower Thames Crossing and A14

Here’s our pick of what’s hot right now and under the spotlight in the Architecture, Engineering & Construction arena!

New ARM Holdings Headquarters – silicon beyond processors

The renowned manufacturer of processors Arm Holdings has a new headquarters in Cambridge. The company, recently bought by Japanese SoftBank Group, has established itself as one of the top tech leaders in the UK. As part of their growth plans, they started building the new HQ back in 2016. The office will bring together 2,500 innovators into a common workplace. With 18,580 square metres and a value of £90m, it will provide an inspiring environment to work in.

Silicon, one of the key materials used in processor manufacture, played a key role in the design of the building. The architects responsible for the design were Scott Brownrigg. Ed Hayden, Director for the design team, said: ‘The silicon structure and Kikuchi bands (a pattern created when a Scanning Electron Microscope strikes crystalline silicon) have been used to inform the design of every detail of the building, from the external appearance of the shading fins, through to the atrium soffits and interior design, down to the bespoke door handles.

The design, with its triangle and diamond patterns, not only has an aesthetics quality, but also environmental. Indeed, by using passive design features, the team managed to save up to 25% of regulated energy. Thanks to this, the building achieved a score of Excellent on the BREEAM assessment, the world’s leading sustainability assessment method.

Lower Thames Crossing – much more than a record-breaking tunnel

Recommendations for a Lower Thames Crossing have been around the table since the publication of the Roads for Prosperity white paper back in 1989. It wasn’t until April 2017, however, when the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling confirmed the preferred route for the project. On the 7th February 2020, Highways England announced that they are now looking for a delivery partner. The £6.8bn crossing will link Gravesend and Tilbury, with a construction duration estimated at 8 years.

Two 4km bored tunnels under the river Thames represent the main challenge for the scheme. When finished, these tunnels will be the longest bored tunnels in Europe. But the scheme involves much more than a ‘simple’ tunnel. In fact, it comprises 23km of new roads connecting the existing network with the tunnel. Additionally, there are plans to improve existing infrastructure on the M25, A2 and A13.

The aim of the scheme is to improve journey times along parts of the A127 and M20. Also, the longest tunnel under the Thames will serve to provide 90% extra capacity between Essex and Kent. With three lanes in both directions and a maximum speed limit of 70mph, the project expects to exceed expectations. Moreover, it is said to be the most ambitious road project since the construction of the M25. But for now, we will have to wait until the selection of a delivery partner. In the meantime, you can check out Highways England’s project website and watch this fly through:

A14 Upgrade – surprisingly ahead of programme

Most professionals within the industry would be surprised to hear that any construction and engineering project is within budget and well ahead of schedule. Even more the surprise when the project is the A14 Upgrade, the biggest road project under construction in the UK. Many eyebrows were lifted when Highways England recently announced that the project will be open to the public 6 months ahead of the anticipated date. According to this statement, the upgraded A14 will be open to traffic this Spring, rather than the original planned date at the end of this year.

The project – officially called A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme – will be delivered within the agreed £1.5bn. It aims to improve journeys between the East of England and the Midlands. This will be achieved through upgrades to 21 miles of the A14 and a major bypass between Swavesey and Brampton.

Opening this scheme more than six months early and on budget shows what the UK construction industry can achieve working with Highways England on the Strategic Road Network,‘ said Highways England’s chief executive Jim O’Sullivan. Also, Julian Lamb, Project Deputy Director on Balfour Beatty said, ‘This early opening is testament to the collaborative and innovative teams working on this project. With a focus on delivering a safe and sustainable road network, our expertise and capabilities has allowed us to deliver this project safely and efficiently ahead of schedule.

So, this is our pick of engineering and construction hot projects this month. What projects are under your radar right now? Let us know in the comments below!

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