Project details

Located in Birmingham’s new science, technology and learning quarter, University Locks, previously called Number 1 City Locks, will provide accommodation for 659 students, alongside Birmingham City University’s new £260m state-of-the-art facilities, forging a new vibrant and rejuvenated campus in the heart of the city centre.

  • Client: John Sisk & Son
  • Project: Groundworks, Earthworks, Formworks, Enabling Works
  • Location: Birmingham
  • Sector: Residential
  • Value: £3m
  • Contract Duration: 36 weeks
  • Services: Land Remediation, Enabling works, Groundworks


The enabling works consisted of drainage and duct work, reduce ground for office setup, the removal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste and the construction of a pilling mat.

The substructures involved reducing the ground level, excavating and cropping pile caps, the construction of 83 reinforced concrete columns, 6 reinforced concrete cores, 26 reinforced concrete walls, drop beams and floor slabs.

The project presented us with a number of challenges but we overcame them to bring the scheme in on time and under budget.

Due to the large levels of contaminated material around the site, large amounts of earth was destined for landfill. However, by implementing a land remediation strategy we were able to test and clean much of the earth and incorporate it back into the site, in turn diverting 2,210m3 of non-hazardous material from landfill and saving our client in disposal costs.

Another challenge was the logistics of the site. Due to the location of the project in Birmingham city centre adjacent to the very busy ring road (Lawler Middleway), Millennium Point and Birmingham City University, and the fact that storage space on site was very limited, it was vital that all traffic movements were planned in detail to meet the critical programme dates while also keeping the number of traffic movements into and out of the site to a minimum.

To resolve the issue of storage and make best possible use of the space we had, we:

  • Started at one end of the site and moved progressively to the opposite end;
  • Made sure that all areas where machinery had to be placed were easily accessible;
  • Carried out as much of the drainage work as possible before the foundations were cast;
  • Poured all walls and columns to full height from foundations to avoid the need for two pours) and cast the lower ground floor slab cast straight after; and kept deliveries and materials on site to a minimum.

As this was a design and build project, liaising with the main contractor and the project engineers meant we were able to help with certain design aspects of the project, simplify the design and reduce the build time. These included such things as alternative drainage materials and reducing the reinforcement in some heavily reinforced beams to avoid honeycombing in structural elements.

Contact us

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Progress Video: June 2015

Progress Video: May 2015

Progress Video: April 2015

Key Benefits

  • Lowered CO2 emissions by bulk ordering to ensure there were fewer deliveries to the site, using all recycled materials (Type 1 & 6F2) and also recycling materials, such as timber, plywood and excavated muck, back into the site where possible.
  • Created a safe and stable site for ongoing construction work in a very restricted area.