This month we were introduced to edible landscapes, aesthetic motorway gantries – and our fourth construction new minister of the year, so far

Hansom new 2008

Looks like rain, dear

I was rather surprised to learn from an interview elsewhere in these pages with contractor Glencar that a warehouse scheme it is building off the M6 in Warwickshire features “edible landscapes” and, furthermore, includes “reindeer moss walls”. I’m told that Native Americans use reindeer moss, a lichen, to treat diarrhoea – presumably brought on by a good munch on all those edible landscapes.

Mysteries of the motorway

The following is from the blurb accompanying news of a design competition being organised by the RIBA: “The look of England’s motorways has evolved in recent decades and now the search is on to redesign one of the network’s most iconic features – the gantry.” Who knew?


It was good to see Historic England boss Duncan Wilson slumming it like the rest of us and making his way to the Andaz hotel and a consultation on plans by Sellar to redevelop the adjoining Liverpool Street station. I’m told other heritage groups, including the Victorian Society and Save, were given their own private briefings on the proposals before last month’s public exhibition. It hasn’t done much good – both are still dead against the plans.

The report’s facilitators were grateful the pandemic had forced them onto Teams, concerned as they were that industry representatives might otherwise have ‘come to blows’ over disagreements

Must stop not meeting like this

One wonders if new construction minister Nusrat Ghani, the fourth appointed this year, will actually get to sit down with the people at the Construction Leadership Council? The last two – Lord Callanan (who?) and Jackie Doyle-Price (eh?) – certainly didn’t make much of an impression, with neither finding any time in their short tenures for a meeting with chair Mark Reynolds or his staff. Then again, Reynolds would be forgiven for thinking that’s the definition of a win-win.

Now you’re talking

The Construction Productivity Taskforce’s private sector playbook, launched last month, has been warmly greeted. But things were rather fraught in its creation, my hack heard. The report’s facilitators were grateful that the pandemic had forced them onto Teams, a little concerned as they were that industry representatives might otherwise have “come to blows” over disagreements. And once that had been ironed out, one poor consultant became rather worried after “no one spoke” in the first project meeting. The blame was laid on an initial reluctance to information share, rather suggesting industry collaboration still has a bit of a way to go.

Another fine mess

I get the impression that those demolition firms waiting to formally find out how much they will be fined by the Competition and Markets Authority for their roles in bid‑rigging just want the whole thing done with now, to take their punishment and move on. It’s been going on for nearly four years and an announcement on the level of fines that had been due last month has now been pushed into January. At least, that’s the hope. “Who knows when it will happen,” one firm told my scribe. “We’ll all be retired at this rate.”

Train of thought

I hear that Chelsea FC, some years ago now, looked at relocating its Stamford Bridge stadium to Waterloo station – well, above the Victorian arches at the station, to be precise. Plans were apparently drawn up by Grimshaw but, like those produced later by Herzog & de Meuron, nothing ever came of them. Intrigued, my hack enquired: why Waterloo? “I really don’t know,” said my baffled mole. “Good transport links?”


Spot the Dog 02

A Mace team working on the refurbishment of a cargo tunnel at Heathrow airport is using a robotic dog to help it out. It spots trip hazards in the dark and takes scans of completed work. So far, so good. But the dog has been called Dave after the project team held a competition to name it. Surely, given its job is essentially to roam around, it should have been called Rover?

Send any juicy industry gossip to Mr Joseph Aloysius Hansom, who founded Building in 1843, at