Architecture and the Built Environment

BECi: Built Environment Collaboration & Integration is part of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster

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Constructionarium 2014

Every year, the department of Property & Construction at University of Westminster, with the support of BECi, give their students the opportunity to put theory into practice working on a real construction project. Click here for more information on Constructionarium 2014



The Shard: Constructing a vertical city – Event Review

Posted on: 12 June 2014
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Filed under: 20:20 Series, Articles, Courses, Events, Personal viewpoint

The Shard; one of the most iconic skyscrapers in the London skyline; one of the most debated works of modern architecture. Some consider it one of the greatest cultural heritages embedded in our skies. For others, it is a disappointment. Standing at a total of 310 metres and constructed by MACE group, this ambitious project has without a doubt, cemented MACE’s reputation for building innovation. It has 87 floors of residential, commercial and leicure space including the Shangri La Hotel, occupying a third of the building.

‘The Shard: Constructing A Vertical City’ took place in the Faculty of Architecture & the Built Environment (ABE) at the University of Westminster on the 27 March 2014. It delved deeper into the thoughts, planning and construction behind the Shard.

A full audience listened to how the Shard was built and what innovative techniques were used to build so high, with such limited floor space.

The Shard was conceived in 2000, when Renzo Piano sketched the structure of The Shard on a simple paper napkin. From that one sketch, followed years of trying to find funding and construction & consultation companies, who would be able to finish the project in time for the Olympics. In total, £450 million went into building the Shard.

MACE group was appointed as main contractor in 2009 and through sheer determination they delivered The Shard within 38 months, with all major construction completed in time for the Olympics.

Within The Shard project, MACE constructed a 24/7 working hour ethos, and with limited spacing many of the trucks had to come one by one to unload materials. There was also extensive vertical transportation of materials; using tower cranes, jump cranes and external hoists. The Shard was built with a top down plan, with 29 floors using post tension concrete, 38 miles of pipe work and being built with 3/5th of Steel work. All of this, and with zero incidents to the labour force. MACE group had a complex strategic plan to reduce the labour force to only 1600 workers, while still being operational for 24 hours.

Successfully completing this project has grounded MACE group’s reputation as a producer of quality construction and high expectations. MACE group also operates overseas, with an immense portfolio of projects all over the world. From London’s British Museum, the London Eye & Emirates Air Line to Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower & Jumeirah beach Residencies.


BECi hosts regular CPD certified events throughout the year. Click here for more information on future events.

This event coincides with the exciting launch of the Building Information Management MSc/ PGDip/ PGCert at University of Westminster.

If you liked this event, why not learn with us? Click here to view the wide range of other undergraduate, postgraduate and professional development short courses available.


Words: Rezwana Khan (Journalism BA, University of Westminster)

Photos: Teona Teodorescu (Graphic Communication Design BA, University of Westminster)

Adapting to Change

Posted on: 18 December 2012
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Filed under: Articles, Current projects

BECi meeting with industry partners – 12th December 2012

Collaboration and integration are at the very core of the BECi initiative. A meeting at the University of Westminster on 12th December 2012 provided a fantastic opportunity to practice what we preach.

We brought together a range of leaders and innovators from the built environment professions to meet with academic staff from the School of Architecture and the Built Environment. The objective was to consider how the School can promote collaboration and integration through its curriculum and through its research and engagement with industry.

Alongside members of the BECi team from the University of Westminster were construction industry leaders, architects, designers, project managers, BIM specialists and consultants:

  • Don Ward: Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence
  • Paul Fletcher: Chartered Architect and co-founding director of Through Architecture
  • Robert Klaschka: Studio Klaschka Architecture + Design
  • Ben Wallbank: BIM Consultant and Architect
  • Nigel Fraser: Director at West One Management Consulting
  • Adrian Gale: Partner at MPP Construction Consultants

Bringing such a diverse range of professionals together inevitably produced a wide variety of views. Here’s just a flavour of the issues which came up in discussions:

  • What is the role of the construction industry in society at large? Has it lost its purpose?
  • Should the focus be more on the ‘built environment’ rather than on ‘buildings’?
  • Is professional practice becoming more multi-disciplinary?
  • Is the industry shifting away from being ‘design-led’ to be being ‘constructor-led’?
  • What are the barriers to collaborative working in the construction industry? Do professional bodies perpetuate the silo mentality in the industry?
  • What role can higher education courses play in promoting collaboration and integration?

It was fascinating to hear views expressed from different perspectives, and naturally there wasn’t unanimous agreement on all the points. Nevertheless, for the BECi team this is exactly the sort of industry engagement which informs our thinking and helps us to develop strategies for the design of our curriculum and the direction of our research and knowledge transfer activities. As Adrian Gale commented at the end of the meeting, we cannot send graduates out from Westminster with an expectation that their knowledge base will last. If graduates do not have the ability to integrate then we will have done them a dis-service.

One theme which seemed fairly consistent throughout the discussions was the importance of adapting to change. The famous (but often mis-quoted ) line from Charles Darwin was raised at the meeting, and is particularly apt in the current context:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”  Charles Darwin


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