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GE Awards 2018 - the winners revealed

Welcome to the award winners’ announcement for the 2018 Ground Engineering Awards – our 10th anniversary.

When these awards were conceived over decade ago, the industry had been riding a wave of year on year growth. But then all that changed in 2008 when the recession hit. Nonetheless, these awards have charted the rise of geotechnical innovation in the face of adversity over the last 10 years and our special Project of the Decade category celebrates the highlights of these challenging years.

The winner of the Project of the Decade, along with identities of this year’s other trophy-holders, was revealed at a gala ceremony held in London on 6 June but here we add more insight into the projects and teams that were crowned as winners and into why judges selected them.

Every year this industry has demonstrated that, however tight the budget and competitive the market, it can still deliver award-winning innovation, technical expertise and value engineering – and this year was no exception.

I know the judges had a challenging time selecting the winners as every entry clearly demonstrated how the geotechnics industry has continued to push forward engineering excellence to benefit efficiency, improve safety and provide value.

Congratulations to all of our winners.

Claire Smith


screen shot 2018 06 05 at 12.10.27

screen shot 2018 06 05 at 12.10.27

screen shot 2018 06 05 at 12.21.26

screen shot 2018 06 05 at 12.21.26

Award for Equipment Innovation

Winner: Fugro Amphibious Buggy - Intertidal Drilling Rig  

equipment innovation fugro fab

equipment innovation fugro fab

The Fugro Amphibious Buggy (FAB) is a drilling rig that can float, propel itself in and out of water and can be elevated to survive tidal movement and small weather events.

The platform comprises two tracked pontoons, a small deck area for drilling operations, a power pack capable of tracking and jacking operations and a fully enclosed cabin for the operator. The FAB can travel by road to the nearest quayside, where the legs and jacking system are assembled. It is then towed to siteby sea. As well as having huge potential to be used on nearshore geotechnical schemes, the judges agreed that this innovation helped bridge the information gap that exists in geotechnical data in the intertidal transition zone.

“Until now investigations for this zone have relied on adapting the techniques used for either a marine investigation or land investigation approach. The amphibious buggy has been proven to work in all environments providing a cost effective solution to clients to obtain reliable data,” said one judge.

Another judge added:“Offshore investigation is pivotal for the many developments. While site investigation tools are available for both shallow water and deep waters, there is often a difficulty in the transition depths.“

The Fugro amphibian buggy provides a reliable cost effective tool for such purposes. This is effective and essentially doing more for less money.”

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Award for Technical Excellence

Winner: OGI Groundwater Specialists

technical excellence ogi groundwater specialists

technical excellence ogi groundwater specialists

OGI applied its Stable-Earth system to weak saturated ground where a storage tank was being installed at Royton WastewaterTreatment Works.

The size and position of the storage tank made the work challenging. Existing infrastructure increased the complexity of designing safe economic slopes, for the formation level for the tank at up to 14m below existing ground level.The Stable-Earth system comprised three key techniques to produce safe and stable engineered slopes: theoretical modelling to simulate earth and groundwater behaviour; a physical groundwater control system to reduce pore water pressure; and a physical earth reinforcement system to provide additional strength to the soil mass.

OGI’s solution was to lower the water table to reduce the pore water pressure.This minimised running sand and strengthened the soils around the excavation. The soil mass was further strengthened and stabilised by the use of ground anchors.

The judges liked OGI’s flexible and pragmatic solution, which “demonstrated a strong collaboration between OGI and the contractor to deliver an effective and yet easy to build and flexible solution.”

Best practice from analysis, dewatering and anchoring to create a bespoke solution tailored to the ground conditions impressed the judges, as did the cost savings of around £250,000 for the client.

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Award for Technical Innovation

Sponsored by 

lock up fugro colour

lock up fugro colour

Winner: Equipe - sensor activated failsafe enabled rig guarding system - Safer G

technical innovation winner equipe

technical innovation winner equipe

Safer G is a sensor based guarding system which replaces the interlocked gates at the front of the rotary rig. The system plugs straight into the rig’s control and safety system to provide the driller with a failsafe system which requires no gates to be opened. If the system is triggered by somebody being detected or if a sensor fails, it will not allow the driller to override the system and re-start rotation.

The sensors create a safeguarded zone in front of the rig and is triggered only when parts of a human body enter. It uses a technology which sees through spray, water and dust anddoes not stop if there is a build-up of dirt on the sensors.

Equipe has now fitted a number of Safer G systems on rigs in the UK, Italy and France. They can be mounted in different configurations to suit vertical, angled and horizontal holes and on old and new rigs as long as they comply to BS EN 16228.The system has been used on rigsused for ground investigation projects, water wells and probing works, as well as in tight locations where the opening of interlocked gates would have been a significant problem.

According to Equipe, the Safer G system can increase productivity as it removes the need for a support operative to open and close the gates The system removes the need to design elaborate safety systems for larger rigs, simpliflies the design, and reduces the weight and cost compared to bespoke systems.

The sensors are dust tight and sealed so there are no replacement or repair costs when they are struck by drill rods or drillers.The judges were impressed with this “excellent innovation for the ground investigation industry”.

One judge commented that the development provided “a robust protection zone around drilling rigs that will lead to improved safety and productivity and it had great potential to benefit many other applications. ”Equipe’s “single-minded determination to bring an idea to fruition and successfully take it to market” also impressed the judges.


Highly commended: Vertase FLI - Landfill Remediation

To increase the economic viability of the remediation of historical landfi ll sites, Vertase FLI developed a separation process to recover engineering materials from waste.The process uses technologies from the mining and construction industries to recover mineral basedmaterials (soils, gravels, aggregates) and non-mineral-based synthetic materials (plastics).

These can be processed and combined to produce an engineering material with suitable geotechnical and geochemical characteristics for the construction of development platforms for housing, roads and services.

The judges liked how Vertase FLI had demonstrated an innovative new separation process that has significant potential for cost and environmental benefits. One judge said that “the development will enable remediation and redevelopment of sites that were previously considered cost prohibitive”.

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Consulting Firm of the Year

Sponsored by 

bauer technologies cmyk

bauer technologies cmyk

 Winner: Ramboll

consulting firm winner ramboll

consulting firm winner ramboll

Ramboll’s unaudited 2017 geotechnical revenue is £3.9M, up from £3.5M the previous year. With a record breaking order book last year, the firm secured many significant projects across buildings, transport and environment and health markets, with significant growth in transport project workload.

The firm resourced this additional workload by outsourcing 12,500-plus extra transport project hours to colleagues in Denmark and India – an increase of more than 45% from the last 12 months.

At the same time, the number of Ramboll ground engineering staff grew by 7%, in response to winning projects such as High Speed 2, Liverpool Cruise Terminal and the Digital Railway.

One project highlighting the firm’s continued success is the Thameslink Canal twin-bored tunnels located directly below a proposed 12-storey commercial building at King’s Cross in London. The building is part of Argent’s wider King’s Cross Central masterplan and the tunnels placed a significant constraint on the site’s development potential.

Ramboll worked with Argent to maximise let-ability while demonstrating to Network Rail that the proposals would not have a detrimental effect on the safe operation and serviceability of the tunnels.

Throughout 2017, Ramboll implemented initiatives for knowledge sharing and technical advancement in ground engineering using a group-wide geotechnical engineering network and active engagement with external bodies. Difficult projects such as the development of prototype wind turbine foundations and construction of composite bridge foundations have been delivered using research and on-site trials to demonstrate the consultant’s concepts. Each research and development project is sponsored by a member of a particular discipline’s management to ensure that it progresses, and that advances in knowledge are shared.

Ramboll’s ground engineering projects in Antarctica have proved very successful and the firm reports a great response to outreach work by Ramboll ground engineer Beccy Cusworth. She has used her Antarctic experience in her work as a STEM ambassador at three Hampshire schools, hoping to inspire 800-plus students to become engineers.

The judges were impressed with Ramboll’s holistic approach to projects. They said this showed wide reaching benefits for the clients, stakeholders and communities. This was evident with the repeat business Ramboll enjoys, as well as showing “very good relationship building which was reflected with an understanding of stakeholder and community involvement”.

The judges particularly liked Ramboll’s collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey which showed a high level of long term partnering and collaborative working. 

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Contractor of the Year

Sponsored by

dsi simple cmyk

dsi simple cmyk

Winner: Ward & Burke

contractor of the year ward and burke construction

contractor of the year ward and burke construction

Over 700 people are employed by Ward & Burke Construction, where revenue has grown from £161M to £179M in the past year, through work in the UK, Ireland and Canada. According to the firm, this expansion is a direct result of 15 years of in-house training for all workers, including engineers.

Investment in plant was £27M in 2016 and the portfolio of work undertaken includes 130 insitu caissons (4m to 30m internal diameter), microtunnelling (9,300mm 1,200mm to 2,700mm internal diameter) and 56,000m² of reinforced concrete structures. All design is carried out in house.

Teleconferencing has ensured there is good communication regarding innovative ideas, designs and work flow throughout the various company locations. “Workforce days” are also scheduled where all employees come together to discuss company performance.

Ward & Burke says it is constantly developing new methods and approaches to successfully eliminate risk. Using careful examination of site investigations and conditions, challenging projects are managed by identifying and designing out risks. Construction sequences are discussed with all members of staff to ensure all aspects are carried out as efficiently and safely as possible.

The firm has recently developed a level detection system to guide the caisson sinking process. The system consists of four pressure transducers cast into the reinforced concrete caisson wall at the quarter points. All transducers, PT1 to PT4, are linked by half inch wire reinforced hosing to a header tank and a fixed reference pressure transducer (PTref) at ground level. The difference in pressure between PTref and PT1 to PT4 provides the level of the caisson at each location. The system records the level of the caisson at each location with millimetre accuracy.

The judges were impressed with the passion and pride shown by the presenters, together with an impressive commitment to the future of the industry and research and development, as well as the exemplary communication with a range of internal and external stakeholders.

“Ward and Burke demonstrated clear evidence of continuous growth in turnover and geographical location and they presented two very different projects which demonstrated their technical prowess and ability to deliver benefits to the client,” said one judge.


Highly commended: Bachy Soletanche

Bachy Soletanche has grown turnover and profit in the past 12 months. Turnover increased by £2M and profit by 57% on the previous year. The firm has historically been strong in the London market, but 2017 saw it actively targeting the Scottish market. This included a client programme of CPD, site visits and trade exhibitions – an approach that has already seen success with two projects awarded and delivered in the region, along with others in the pipeline.

The judges were impressed with Bachy’s ability to successfully deliver a wide range of ground engineering projects, as well as an impressive increase in profitability achieved by focusing on client relationships, improvements in productivity and selective tendering.

One judge was impressed with the “innovations in plant to mitigate impacts on surrounding communities and improve sustainability”. 

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Editor’s Award

Winner: Tideway and Active Training Team - Epic

health and safety epic

health and safety epic

”This award is a real opportunity to celebrate innovation and a contribution to the wider industry that will benefit everyone, and this year’s winner has done just that,” said GE editor Claire Smith.

“Many people have spoken to me about Tideway and Active Training Team’s immersive Employer Project Induction Centre (Epic) scheme with a sense of awe about the step change it delivers. 

“Before the entry was even submitted I was impressed by the profound impact it has had on so many people in the industry and the change it is already delivering.

“The approach to safety induction introduced by Epic is unique in the construction industry and the considerable effort that has gone into developing, maintaining and delivering the concept is immense. This effort clearly demonstrates how seriously Tideway is taking its commitment to transform health and safety.

”The Epic training initiative was developed to ensure high standards of safety on the Tideway project from the start and, although the scheme has a number of years yet to run, the figures so far show that it is working.

Figures for the first full year show an accident frequency rate of 0.05, which is a fifth to a seventh of the rate on other recent major infrastructure projects in the UK at the same stage of work.

The immersive experience uses actors, prefilmed storylines and workshops to show the real effect of a death on site on colleagues and families and demonstrates how one mistake can shatter lives. Feedback from the 10,000 attendees so far suggests that over 95% feel more confident in challenging poor health and safety practice on site as a result of the training.

The training initiative has recently been taken a step further with a new version, called Epic Logistics, which is aimed at HGV drivers delivering to Tideway sites. Others in the industry have taken note and many other projects are looking at using the approach to engage with the hearts and minds staff at every level and drive down incidents on site.

“Deciding on the winner for this award is never easy but Epic was a clear winner this year,” said Smith. “The initiative is Epic by name and Epic by nature.”

Geoenvironmental Project of the Year

Winner: Arcadis Consulting UK - characterisation of chlorinated solvent plume by design and delivery of insitu remediation

geoenvironmental project of the year chapelcross nuclear power station

geoenvironmental project of the year chapelcross nuclear power station

Chlorinated solvents used in the maintenance of generator armatures in the 1950s and 1960s at Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station in Scotland had entered the underlying glacial till and penetrated the Triassic sandstone aquifer. Earlier excavation of impacted ground had not reduced the contamination plume, which was at least 400m in length and extended beyond the site boundary. Ten years of monitoring data indicated the plume was probably stable, but not diminishing and natural degradation had stalled.

Arcadis’ investigation strategy included rock mass structure and depth discrete assessment of hydraulic permeability and phreatic conditions, soil vapour surveys and guide targeted drilling.

Assessment of characterisation monitoring, borehole and geophysical data culminated in a detailed conceptual site model depicting a sinking plume reaching to more than 50m depth. Full scale remediation of the residual non-aqueous phase liquid’s source and near source plume using enhanced natural degradation is helping to reduce the plume.

The judges were impressed by the passion for the project and the clear insight into what made the scheme exceptional. “The team demonstrated a clear understanding of the ground model and made good use of existing information and presented clear evidence of a successful outcome,” said one of the judges.

Another commented: “The team made considerable effort to work with the client and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency to help understand the issue and potential of the proposed solution.”  

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Ground Investigation Project of the Year Award

Sponsored by 

geo bear logo

geo bear logo

Winner: Atkins Mouchel JV and Raeburn Drilling and Geotechnical – A9 Dualling Dalraddy to Slochd Stage 2 Preliminary Ground Investigation

ground investigation project a9 dualling

ground investigation project a9 dualling

At 25km in length, the Dalraddy to Slochd section of Transport Scotland’s A9 dualling project is the longest requiring upgrade on the scheme that is set to be fully completed by 2025. The existing A9 traverses challenging geology in a highly constrained corridor as it passes through the Cairngorms National Park.

Atkins Mouchel JV and Raeburn Drilling & Geotechnical worked together to deliver the £2.7M ground investigation for this difficult section. The Scottish Government has described the overall A9 dualling programme between Perth and Inverness is one of the largest and most challenging infrastructure projects in Scotland’s history.

Scottish cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work Keith Brown said that the ground investigation between Dalraddy and Slochd was vital to support the ongoing design work.

The plan is for the widening to focus mostly on the southbound section using benched-in extensions to existing embankments and cuttings, along with replacement and improvement of a number of existing structures.

The ground investigation was undertaken in conjunction with the emerging scheme and the Atkins Mouchel JV and Raeburn had to work closely with the design team and adopt a proactive and reactive approach to identify appropriate scope as the design was developed.

The objective of the ground investigation was to provide geotechnical and geoenvironmental information about the underlying soils and rock, groundwater regime, and the level of contamination along the proposed section.

Extensive protected peat bogs, which are up to 7m deep, were expected to present challenges to the planned construction. Extensive glaciation resulting in a high proportion of cobbles and boulders and complex, predominantly metamorphic bedrock with several phases of deformation giving rise to highly fractured, sheared, faulted and folded rock masses meant that ground conditions were expected to be challenging and had to be clearly defined by the ground investigation.

With extensive new rock cuttings required, inclined sonic and rotary boreholes supplemented bespoke lab and insitu testing was completed to inform rock slope characteristics and proposed blast strategy.

The ground investigation included work in environmental and geological conservation area. As well as using lidar survey, web-based GIS was implemented and this allowed the ground investigation information to carried by team members and complete automated pre-condition surveys.

According to the judges, the project team coped well with design evolving during the ground investigation stage and adapting to this, despite a tough schedule. They said that the team effectively dealt with challenges from topography, climate, variable geology and sensitive ecological environments, all while working alongside a busy live carriageway.

“Stake holder engagement was taken very seriously on this scheme,” commented one of the judges. The judges were impressed by the legacy of geological data that this project has left behind to benefit both the client and others for decades to come. 

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Ground Investigation Specialist of the Year

Winner: Central Alliance

central alliance

central alliance

In May 2017 Central Alliance reported that revenues had grown by 61% to £4.12M and employee numbers had risen from 10 in May 2015 to 85.

The business says it is well equipped to deal with various size projects and is now winning and delivering major projects with turnover in excess of £1M. In just over a year, the firm has won tenders for the Transpennine Route Upgrade - East of Leeds for True Alliance, Transpennine Route Upgrade - West of Leeds for Transpire Alliance, A1 Birtley to Coalhouse and A1 Scotswood to North Brunton for Sisk Lagan JV.

Central Alliance has continued to be chosen as the preferred pre-construction services supplier for Amey, Amco, Bam Nuttall and Story Contracting and won supplier places on national framework agreements with several large contractors.

The judges were impressed with Central Alliance’s excellence in innovation through looking at clients’ current and future needs, and the firm’s collaborative working and involvement with communities.


Highly commended: Raeburn Drilling & Geotechnical

Over the past 12 months RDG has seen its turnover increase by 2.5% and profit margin increase by 9%. It has ensured a balance between maintaining its small to medium customer base while adapting and expanding to facilitate major infrastructure investigations. The average value of projects undertaken by RDG has increased by a 290%.

The judges felt the company’s excellent understanding of the market was worthy of merit. They also commended the company’s ability to adapt and change to meet challenges.

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Health and Safety Award

Sponsored by 

tarmac logo normal

tarmac logo normal

Winner: Tideway and Active Training Team - Epic

health and safety epic

health and safety epic

Tideway is set to transform the River Thames, preventing millions of tonnes of raw sewage from entering the tidal section each year by diverting it to a new sewer.

However, the project is also aiming to transform health, safety and wellbeing during the construction. Tideway has said that it wanted to learn from previous successful infrastructure projects and build on this to bring performance to levels not previously seen in the industry.

Tideway worked with Active Training Team to develop the Employer Project Induction Centre (Epic) in a bid to avoid the initial “spike” in health and safety incidents typically observed on previous infrastructure projects in the mobilisation phase.

Epic is an immersive, multi-media experience, played out in a number of different rooms and zones. Through the training programme, participants witness a fatal incident on a construction site and see the impact and consequences of the death on site and within the family of the victim. Everyone who works on Tideway must attend; from company CEOs to front line workers. This, Tideway says, is embedding the health, safety and wellbeing culture within the entire workforce across the project from day one.

According to Tideway, the absorbing experience leaves participants with a lasting understanding of their role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everyone on the project. Although work on Tideway has only been underway on site for just over a year, the organisation already has data that proves that the new approach is having a positive impact on the safety culture.

The GE Awards judges said that the initiative “brings about a real step change throughout the construction industry and sets a new benchmark”.

“The immersive multimedia experience really emphasises how everyone can contribute to the safety culture,” said one judge.


Highly Commended: Dr Sauer & Partners, Dragados and London Underground - Bank Station Capacity Upgrade

The “Option A Joint” is a development of a radial joint in sprayed concrete lining tunnelling and has resulted in the removal of the need to enter the sealed tunnel face. At Bank Station, the ground conditions in the London Clay are fractured and blocky and, using the technique makes it possible to maintain clear exclusion zones through the construction cycle of an advance, allowing for a safer working despite minor ground fallouts during excavation.

The judges described the development as “a fundamental game-changer, which was driven by individuals working on the project”. 

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

International Project of the Year

Sponsored by 

bam ritchies cmyk

bam ritchies cmyk

Winner: AS Tallinna Vesi, United Utilities and Lemminkäinen – Repair of the collapsed Tihase Kollektor Tunnel, Estonia

international project of the year repair of the collapsed tihase kollektor tunnel 2

international project of the year repair of the collapsed tihase kollektor tunnel 2

Dealing with a geotechnical failure is not the only success that helped AS Tallinna Vesi, United Utilities and Lemminkäinen win this award. The judges also commended the legacy the work has created in terms of improved health and safety standards in Estonia.

Partial collapse of the 3.5m diameter, 800m long Kollektor tunnel in Tallinn in October 2014 caused major subsidence at the surface and interrupted the waste-water network. The tunnel and shafts were constructed within very weak stratified soils, using techniques including ground freezing and compressed air, during the early 1980s when Estonia was part of the Soviet Union.

The permanent structure was formed by a segmental outer liner and reinforced spray concrete liner. The failure in the tunnel, which is 8m below ground level, was triggered when repairs were being undertaken on an adjacent 1.2m diameter sewer at 5m depth. The ground collapsed around a cofferdam being used to access the sewer. This caused disturbance to the adjacent shaft and significant lateral and vertical subsidence, distortion and damage to the much larger Kollektor. This allowed sediment to flow in under the high ground water pressure.

AS Tallinna Vesi sought technical assistance from United Utilities and Lemminkäinen was brought in to deliver the solution. One of the challenges was gaining a clear understanding of the collapse mechanism and new ground model as it was not safe to enter the tunnel and remotely operated vehicles failed to give a clear picture of the collapse conditions.

According to United Utilities, the risk of total collapse and impact on the city of Tallin had to be considered and planned for during the design phase. The historical construction, weak water-bearing ground and prevailing weather conditions ensured a challenging emergency repair which included a sheet-piled cofferdam, jet grouting to support the tunnel and shaft, as well as tube à manchette grouting to provide low permeability soil around the distressed tunnel.

A second phase of grouting was undertaken to stabilise the existing tunnel outside the cofferdam and control groundwater control. Remediation work finished in January 2017 after extensive jet grouting was undertaken to form a water-tight cofferdam around the collapse and to remove the influence of ground freezing tubes used during the original construction phase.

Immediately following the collapse an €8M (£6.9M) budget was approved to fund the works but collaboration on the design and delivery of the solution enabled it to be delivered for €6.9M (£6M). Judges were impressed with the clear passion and enthusiasm demonstrated by the project team.

“This was a high profile project which was politically sensitive but demonstrated a collaborative way of working between UK and local engineers to overcome a series of problems in challenging ground conditions,” said one of the judges.  

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Project of the Decade Award

Sponsored by 

keltbray piling

keltbray piling

Winner: 2015 – Queensferry Crossing, Firth of Forth 

Transport Scotland with Jacobs Arup JV, Ramboll and Forth Crossing Bridge Constructor

project of the decade winner queensferry.nce.photo6

project of the decade winner queensferry.nce.photo6

Voting for the Project of the Decade category was thrown open to the public and GE invited its readers to go out and promote their favourite project from the major project category winners of the last 10 years.

There was an overwhelming response, but there was also a clear winner – the Queensferry Crossing, which secured 52% of the votes after harnessing the power of Twitter, Reddit and local media to get delighted bridge users and neighbours to vote for the project.

The bridge opened last summer but GE’s first coverage of the structure started in 2011.

Construction of the foundations presented a number of geotechnical challenges. The varying ground conditions called for several construction techniques to be used, including prefabricated steel caissons, designed to penetrate thick alluvium and boulder clay deposits; prefabricated steel cofferdams positioned in preformed sub-sea trenches, formed by excavation and blasting; and driven sheet pile cofferdams utilising hold down anchors or deep de-watering wells to achieve temporary stability.

Comments on Twitter included one from @xraypat who said: “Done with enormous pride and pleasure” and @mikejboyle1 who described the scheme as “genuinely something Scotland can be proud of ”.


Second place: 2016 – Lyme Regis Environmental Improvements, Phase IV

West Dorset District Council, CH2M, Balfour Beatty Construction Services and Aecom

Public engagement with Lyme Regis visitors and residents helped the coastal defence scheme secure second place in this category with 12% of the votes.

The work undertaken to stabilise a historic landslide in Lyme Regis within a Unesco World Heritage Site was the biggest project of its kind. The £6.5M geotechnical works included construction of a new seawall and major slope stabilisation using 2,500 soil nails, a 27m deep anchored piled wall with anchors up to 46m long, dowel piles extending to 12m, and groundwater drainage to protect 480 homes.


Third place: 2017 – 10 Fenchurch Avenue

Arup Geotechnics and Sir Robert McAlpine

Last year’s major project category winner took just over 8% of the votes to come third in the Project of the Decade category.

The four level basement for this 14 storey building in the City of London required temporary support that allowed the construction time of the secant pile wall-supported basement to be shortened. This also maximised site access with the use of a single level of props measuring up to 50m. 

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

Rising Star Award

Sponsored by 

westpile hoz

westpile hoz

Winner: Thomas St John

rising star winner thomas st john

rising star winner thomas st john

When he was growing up, Jacobs assistant engineering geologist Thomas St John was fascinated by engineering projects and structures. But it was through studying geology at A-level that he gained an appreciation of the fundamental role of geotechnics and was inspired to pursue a career that encompassed geology and engineering.

A summer internship at an engineering consultancy introduced St John to the role of geotechnical engineer and he learned the importance of desk-based studies, ground investigation and geotechnical monitoring in civil engineering schemes. “I was impressed by the challenges tackled in geotechnical engineering and the need to understand multiple engineering disciplines and a range of scientific knowledge to solve the challenges,” St John said in his entry submission.

For his geology degree, St John took a module in engineering geology, where he was inspired by the course leader and “gained an appreciation of the inherent variability of the ground in both geological and engineering terms”.

St John was now sold on geotechnical engineering as a career choice as it offered opportunities to make positive contributions to the built environment and ultimately the way people live their lives – a challenge he relishes.

Jacobs technical director Stephen Chambers says of St John: “He is an excellent professional, extremely knowledgeable, very methodical and very dedicated to everything he does. He is someone you can trust, knowing that his output will be the highest quality and in many cases brings about design and construction efficiency.”

St John is currently working on the detailed design of the M4 Smart Motorways Programme Junctions 3 to12. This includes a 50km carriageway widening and junction improvement scheme for which the geotechnical design requirements are considerable and involve over 85km of widening embankments, cuttings and retaining measures –over 150 gantry foundations and many over and under bridge foundations.

The judges were impressed with St John’s calm, clear and technically competent presentation. “The topic was clearly well researched and demonstrated a very good understanding of the technical challenges faced in the construction of the Panama Canal,” said one judge.

St John’s participation in the wider industry in STEM activities and the mentoring of young engineers was commended. “A thoroughly deserving winner,” added another judge.


Highly Commended: Neeraj Kumar Sharma, Atkins

Hailing from a small town in India, Atkins assistant engineer Neeraj Kumar Sharma was exposed to engineering early in life when he accompanied his father to work at an iron ore plant. His interest was ignited when he saw open cast mine blasting and observed that some soil and rock slopes would stand while others would crumble.

Atkins design manager Abhishek Jain says that Kumar Sharma’s strong commitment, sense of ownership, thoroughness in work, and can-do attitude make him a favourite for any project lead.

The judges were impressed with Kumar Sharma’s enthusiasm and drive, and the excellent technical ability in his presentation. His desire to apply his skills in India and help with social improvement was commendable. 

  • Read more about the shortlist here

Sustainability Award

Sponsored by 

cleveland  steel logo pathed

cleveland steel logo pathed

Winner: Ramboll – Walthamstow Wetlands Reedbeds

sustainability award winner ramboll reservoirs

sustainability award winner ramboll reservoirs

Ramboll was appointed to design 1.8ha of new reedbeds for part the 211ha Walthamstow Wetlands scheme – the largest urban wetland nature reserve in Europe.

Focusing on three operating reservoirs, Ramboll used dredged sediment from a water treatment works settlement lagoon to form beds that were planted to create new reedbed habitat.

The firm’s preliminary design allowed for some of the reedbeds to be constructed of bunds of granular material, slumped to a natural angle of repose with finer silt material placed behind. During the ground investigation, several factors meant that this was no longer considered to be viable option.

This meant that the volume of material required to construct the reedbeds had increased, but the available volume of material was less. The use of a retention system therefore maximised the area that could be created.

Although more material was used in reedbed construction than may have been required to be removed for the settlement lagoon operation, it was predicted that at least 15,000m³ of material would have to be removed offsite, if it were not reused.

The choice of the retention scheme over a hard engineered approach gave financial and environmental benefits, from not requiring heavy materials to be transported to site, or to be manufactured in the case of steel sheet piles.

Over 600m retaining structure was installed and the beds were retained using geotextile engineered structures held up with timber posts. The design allowed for flexibility in changes in water depth and ground conditions, with the “king post” structure modified by decreasing the spacing of the posts and by tying back the posts to an additional line of anchor posts.

The top height of the beds was informed by the optimal planting depth for reeds, with allowance given for consolidation of the silt material after placement.

As the gravels underlying the reservoir were dense, the full designed embedment of the

timber posts was not always possible, so the design was modified on site, for example by adding extra posts. A visual survey “observational approach” was then taken to ensure the stability of the structures.

In the future to remain operational, the settlement lagoon must be dredged every five to eight years, and it is currently anticipated that the material will again be re-used on site to expand and create new areas of reedbed.

According to Ramboll, the solution could be adopted in other reservoirs and in particular in similar water treatment settlement lagoons, repeating the benefits of requiring less off-site disposal while increasing the operational capacity of the lagoons.

The judges were impressed with Ramboll’s solution to optimise the use of the dredged materials for habitat creation in an environmentally sensitive setting and the “sophisticated modelling techniques used to assess options and arrive at a very good, sympathetic environmental engineering solution”.

One judge said: “the project demonstrated strong social benefits, positive impact on the community and good stakeholder engagement.”  

  • Read more about the shortlist here

UK Geotechnical Team of the Year

Sponsored by 

sb fondations uk quadri

sb fondations uk quadri

Winner: Alun Griffiths (Contractors)

geo team of the year winner alun griffiths

geo team of the year winner alun griffiths

The mutually supportive and collaborative partnership between the Griffiths geotechnical team. Network Rail’s buildings and civils design group; and Network Rail’s infrastructure projects division is an illustration of the power of effective partnership.

Working together on the Cambrian rock cutting campaign in North Wales, Griffiths delivered the works including access, methodology, line blocks and core possession, and liaison with netting companies and other suppliers, while Network Rail’s buildings and civils design group focused on the most efficient design to stabilise the areas. The partners established a mutually supportive approach, working closely together at all stages of the design and delivery process, and with a shared focus on best design, safety and value engineered solutions. The close liaison has also informed and supported targeted investment in resources and training.

The campaign consists of a number of rock and soil cutting assets were identified that presented a significant safety and performance risk to the operational railway. Throughout the campaign Network Rail’s buildings and civils design group worked closely with Griffiths.

Griffiths’ focus has been on the pragmatic delivery of works, such as access, methodology, line blocks and core possession, as well as liaison with netting companies and other suppliers on solutions, with the buildings and civils design group focusing on the most efficient design to stabilise the areas.

The collaborative approach to solving site issues and technical queries was important to ensure that the resulting construction was efficient and cost effective. Efficiencies including the reduction of borehole diameter and tendon length. Griffiths also commissioned an road-rail vehicle-mounted long reach drilling rig on a specially developed 10m dipper arm for the rock netting projects. This delivered an estimated five-fold increase in installation speed of bolts, it also reduced the exposure of operatives to handheld vibrating tools.

The use of stainless steel mesh and the Dywidag HCR system on a large-scale project is a first for Network Rail and the close collaboration between the designer and the contractor onsite allowed adjustments to be made as required. The value of the working partnership across all the parties will reach beyond the Cambrian rock cutting campaign which has been the background against which the partnership has been defined.

The judges were impressed with the way Griffiths demonstrated clearly that it had gone beyond what it needed to do and “they won because they didn’t have to do it that way, but chose to”. 

One judge liked the “innovative approach to achieve common goals”, “strongly aligned cultural values” and how the firm had used every opportunity to invest in the future of the people, the methods, the relationship and the equipment. There was a “clear passion that came through in their presentation”.  

  • Read about the short list here 

UK Project with a geotechnical value of up to £1M

Sponsored by

keller hi res

keller hi res

Winner: Amey Consulting - Horsley Hill slip

uk project up to £1 m b4058 horsley hill slip

uk project up to £1 m b4058 horsley hill slip

When the southbound carriageway on the B4058 in Gloucestershire collapsed at the end of 2013, ground investigation showed the 12m wide failed zone had been constructed on a wedge of made ground, while the northbound carriageway was constructed on Birdlip Limestone Formation and Bridport Sand Formation.

The southbound carriageway started to show signs of cracking and movement in early 2013 and an investigation had started, but the major failure happened before remedial measures could be put in place. The movement in late 2013 resulted in the carriageway dropping by 1m over a 30m length but a 12m section was more severely affected by the failure.

A number of solutions were considered, including bored piles and carriageway diversion but the final design involved placing 94 precast “L” sections 2m below carriageway level and anchored into the underlying rock bed.

According to Amey, this solution met Gloucestershire County Council’s budget constraints and using the precast sections reduced the temporary works needed and helped create a safe working area as the construction progressed along the 50°slope which was up to 20m high.

All 94 precast units were installed within two days creating a 1m cantilever over the failed zone to maintain the original carriageway width. Finite element analysis was carried out to prove the design ahead of construction. The 25 units spanning the failed zone were secured using 8m long micropiles to create additional overturning resistance.

Initially the road remained open with traffic light control but, once the remedial work got underway, road closures were essential. Amey played a key role in the council’s community engagement work during the planning and construction of the project with public consultations, open days and production of a village newsletter to keep residents up to date with progress.

The main construction phase was also planned around the school holidays to minimise the impact of the work on nearby schools. Collaboration was central to the success of the scheme. It helped Amey, its subcontractor John Graham Construction and the council overcome difficulties and avoid claims for unforeseen ground conditions and changes to the design and specification of the work.

Judges said that Amey’s entry was the clear winner that demonstrated excellence in every aspect of the project. One judge said: “The project team delivered a robust solution with good collaboration throughout.” Another added that the team demonstrated exemplary community engagement. Overall, the judges were impressed with the excellent value for money delivered on this scheme. 

  • Read more about the shortlist here.

UK Project with a geotechnical value between £1M and £3M

Sponsored by

groundforce shorco2 new cmyk

groundforce shorco2 new cmyk

Winner: Mott MacDonald and Bachy Soletanche - Linton Bridge, North Yorkshire

uk project from £1 m to £3 m linton bridge

uk project from £1 m to £3 m linton bridge

Storm Eva brought heavy rainfall to the UK on Boxing Day 2015 and the resulting high river flows caused scour around the piers of the Grade II listed Linton Bridge, which spans the River Wharfe in Yorkshire. Damage to the masonry arch road bridge pushed it close to collapse. The scour resulted in 200mm settlement of the south pier and severe structural damage with loss of thrust in the south arch. The central section was supported in pure tension within the mortar joints.

Work to stabilise, design and construct a new piled integral deck for the bridge was complex, with restricted access and challenging ground conditions. Piling work for the scheme took six months to complete at a cost of £1.4M.

During pile installation at the north pier, removal of the temporary casing resulted in grout loss beneath the old pad footing and the casing had to be sealed back into the rock and cast into the pile to mitigate a pollution incident.

According to Bachy, design and construction of the mini-piles was pushed to the limit to address initial grout loss at the north pier by a change from 194mm CHS steel to 220mm segmental casing. This resulted in pier pile safe working loads increasing from 950kN to1150kN and rock sockets changed from 300mm diameter, 6m deep to 190mm diameter, 12m deep to support piles up to 27m in length.

Further difficulties occurred where locally fractured mudstone was encountered and the hydrostatic pressure from 27m of wet grout posed a risk to further grout loss to the river. Changes to the methodology and grout mix were made, including a two-stage grouting operation and use of a higher cement content mix, to manage the issue.

Rigs also successfully bored through brick, concrete and rock with maximum vibration levels recorded not exceeding the set limit of 5mm/s and the work did not cause any additional damage to the abutments or piers during pile installation. Collaborative working between all the parties involved to resolve technical challenges, meant that the bridge could be repaired to its original appearance with a reduced future maintenance liability.

The bridge fully reopened after the £4.8M remediation scheme was completed in September 2017. Judges were impressed by the innovative and timely temporary and permanent works solution to preserve a listed structure which came in below budget and on programme. The use of a risk-based approach to design and delivery was also commended. “The entry demonstrated good stakeholder and third party engagement, as well as close relationships with the client and supply chain,” added one of the judges. 

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

UK Project with a geotechnical value of between £3M and £15M

Winner: Bachy Soletanche, Robert Bird Group and GCG - Spire London

uk project from 3 m to 15 m spire canary wharf

uk project from 3 m to 15 m spire canary wharf

The Spire London is a 67-storey residential tower at Canary Wharf built directly over two Crossrail running tunnels. Due to constraints of Crossrail, 60m deep diameter piles were placed in discrete corridors around the tunnels, concentrating the building loads rather than spreading them over the wider site footprint.

Collaboration between the three firms on the project ensured compatibility between the design of the piles and the requirements of the tower design, and the predicted impact of the foundation solution on the adjacent assets.

Judges were impressed by the strong coordinated approach between designers coupled with a very collaborative partnership with contractors. They added that the project pushed the boundaries of pile testing and led to optimisation of pile lengths.


Highly Commended Van Elle, Story Contracting, Network Rail and Aecom - Eden Brows emergency works

In winter 2015, Storm Desmond caused a 500,000t landslip on the Settle to Carlisle railway. Van Elle was approached by Story Contracting to use the Elemex percussive drill to form the piles to create a platform for the rail route to ensure it remained stable if the landslide continued to move. The anchored contiguous bored pile wall is socketed into the intact bedrock below the failure.

According to judges, the entry demonstrated excellent collaboration between designers and contractors. 

  • Read about the rest of the shortlist here.

UK Project with a geotechnical value of over £15M

Winner: Bouygues (UK) and Campbell Reith - UCLH Phase 4 Proton Beam Therapy project

uk project over £15 m uclh phase 4 proton beam therapy project

uk project over £15 m uclh phase 4 proton beam therapy project

Proton Beam therapy is an extremely precise form of radiotherapy and the NHS is investing £250M to build two centres - one at UCLH - five storeys below ground in a 28.5m deep basement to house sensitive equipment.

The L-shaped, 87m by 67m basement is big enough to contain the Albert Hall and deeper than the Central line. In total 78, 1m thick diaphragm wall panels to depths ranging from 33m to 36m were used to form the permanent retaining structure for the basement and were supported by1,150t of steel propping over three levels during the construction phase.

The highly congested ground has a complex, faulted geology, plus there was a need to restrict long-term differential movement to 1:5000. These challenges were addressed by Bouygues and Campbell Reith by use of a 2m thick raft and tension piles. 

The judges said that the scheme was a winner because the team overcame the geotechnical challenges in an innovative way, and demonstrated that they disseminated the information beyond the project team to benefit the wider industry.” The team also clearly demonstrated how they engaged with a range of stakeholders and third parties,” added one of the judges. 

  • To read about the rest of the shortlist here.

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