Technical Study: What lies beneath

Cave interior from north looking south

Construction of Nottingham Trent University’s new Confetti Digital Media Hub revealed medieval caves beneath the ground

Cave interior from north looking south

The discovery of two medieval manmade cave in the ground beneath added £212,000 to the cost of building the £9.12m education centre the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies and Nottingham Trent University, designed by Allan Joyce Architects

The sudden discovery of medieval caves beneath a construction site would typically halt building work. The implications of such an important archaeological find could have a profound impact on both the build programme and costs, which are often borne by the contractor or client.

But in the construction of Nottingham’s new Confetti Digital Media Hub, the discovery of one of the city’s oldest caves thankfully occurred before building work had begun. The incredible find did, however, require a rapid rethink of the proposed piling methodology for the building’s foundations.


The new £9.12m seven-storey education centre designed by Allan Joyce Architects will provide headquarters for the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies, following its partnership with Nottingham Trent University. It became a design-and-build project at stage four of the contract after planning permission was granted and the procurement of the principal contractor was conducted via an OJEU-compliant, two-stage tender process and a JCT design-and-build 2011 contract with amendments.

“We had to work quickly to adapt the design so that it didn’t have a significant impact on the construction programme”

Sam Paterson, Price & Myers

There was a hard deadline of September 2018 for the project to complete, because the centre had to be ready for its first student intake. A decision was made to clear the site with a generous gap before construction started because of the high risk of discovering archaeological remains in the ground – which in retrospect was an enlightened move. 

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