This week it’s curtains for Jarvis and the shutters are firmly drawn at Man City, but a shaft of light descends on some of the deepest, darkest parts of London

Railroading the City

There were few tears shed last week when rail specialist Jarvis finally passed away. It had gained a reputation for aggressively going after work and accounting practices that painted its figures in the best possible light – not always to the amusement of the City. Some analysts were sucked in by the firm’s apparent success back in the early noughties (“I was momentarily taken in,” said a sheepish number cruncher this week). However, others sensed the writing on the wall 10 years ago. One said: “I was sitting across the table from former chief executive Paris Moayedi, trying to pin him down on the numbers. He couldn’t answer my questions and leaned across, looked me in the eye and said: ‘You’ve got to trust me’.” It’s enough to send a shiver down the spine.

Citizens X

Any journos eager find out what Man City and the council are up to with the redevelopment of the SportCity stadium have been met thus far with a wall of silence. One assumes this is merely a reflection of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan famous aversion to publicity. But now it emerged that the veil of secrecy is to be drawn lower still. The joint venture set up to progress the development has, Building understands, been designed to be impermeable to Freedom of Information requests, despite two of the partners being public bodies. There’s nothing like transparent use of public money …

Shifting sands

Shifting sands

Who in their right mind would build a $4bn semi-speculative, mixed-use scheme bang opposite Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah? Well, Dubai Pearl would. Its eponymous scheme is now on site, and the developers are hawking it around in an attempt to defy prevailing trends (and, some might say, common sense) to drum up investment. But perhaps sceptical readers should withhold judgment: Dubai Pearl has actually secured the support of famous hotel brands, among them Las Vegas’ MGM Mirage. Then again, who owns a $5bn stake in MGM? Why, Dubai World of course, the state-linked owner of troubled developer, Nakheel, whose £15bn debts will take up to eight years to pay. Good to know the seaside scheme’s towers are on solid foundations.

Underground movement

It seems London may soon have a new tourist attraction to add to its guide books. A newly formed company is proposing to open 26 of the capital’s oldest underground stations and shelters. The Old London Underground Company wants to turn the spaces into arts venues, with one hosting memorabilia from the London fire brigade (charred bricks perhaps?), and another celebrating the city’s great writers. The director of the firm even suggested the stations be used as entertainment venues for the athletes in the 2012 Games. I’m not sure how many athletes will be happy travelling into the city to hang out in a tunnel, but each to their own …

House of card

The world of concrete blocks isn’t exactly a hotbed of innovation, but here’s a novel idea – an eco-version made from paper mixed with sand and cement. It’s being trialled by Econovate. They’re probably on safe ground, too, as they’ve had one soaking in a bucket of water in the office for six months and so far it hasn’t turned soggy.

Modern methods of destruction

Speaking of innovation, it was only a matter of time before the iPhone app market provided something really useful for the construction professional at play. And here it is. Building Destroyer is a new game, so the (slightly oddly translated) publicity tells me, in which the aim is to “destroy the building as soon as possible by shouting with your own mouth or shaking your iPhone”. The Health and Safety Executive will be pleased to know that “if the debris which falls down cracks the ordinary passers-by, then your mark will be reduced”. The world of modern communications is a wonderful thing.