CEW Award Winners 2013 - Twenty First Century Construction Value

Value is not always something easily defined, but in Welsh construction and in the CEW Awards value is not about money.

26th February 2014

It is about how a project contributes to society via the people it affects, the environment it is built within and the manner in which it is conceived, built and then maintained.

“Value in our terms doesn’t immediately translate to value for money,” said Richard Farmer, project manager of the programme for Gwynedd County Council. “The Welsh Government’s agenda for community benefits encompasses the value of the building to the community and the value of the process to the community.”

Richard’s explanation is just one of the reasons why the team behind the £9.3 million Ysgol Yr Hendre project was the first in the Council’s 21st Century Schools modernisation programme and winner of CEW’s 2013 Award for Value as well as a CE National winner. Right from the beginning of the scheme, when it was decided to use Caernarfon Castle as the inspiration for the school the tone for the project was set. Gwynedd County Council employed Mold-based JIG Architects, who proposed taking pupils on a ‘learning journey’, by moving each year group through classrooms designed around a courtyard. The perfect design model for a long, narrow building with a courtyard at its centre was the local World Heritage Status-holding stronghold of Caernarfon Castle. Procured under a design and build contract with Wynne Construction as main contractor, building got underway in December 2009.

High unemployment in the area belied a skills shortage within the building industry. This dichotomy provided the council with a strong incentive to use the project as an opportunity for work experience and skills development, to inspire local people to become a part of the construction labour market. By the time it was opened to its 450 pupils in March 2012, 83% of labour costs had been spent on people living within Wales and 79% of the contract spend had gone to Welsh businesses. Of the suppliers used, 71% were located within 20 miles of the site.

There were so many other factors that made the scheme a CEW Award winner – but the impact upon the community and local jobs stands out. So, if you’re looking for a definition of value then Ysgol Yr Hendre stands out.