Roll up, roll up … And enter a magical world where cranes dance on building sites, construction professionals ride dragons across the waves, civil engineers are funny, and death metal bands are completely silent


Interpretive dance

Well now I’ve heard everything. In Greece last week construction of a new cultural quarter in Athens, Greece, paused for a very special performance. The Greek National Opera teamed up with developer the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the scheme’s architect Renzo Piano to present “Dance of the Cranes”, a creative dance performance involving the choreographed movements of ten giant cranes on the construction site. Special lighting and visual effects highlighted the cranes, as they moved to music from composer Gustav Holst’s The Planets. The €566m (£454m) project will be home to the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece once it opens in 2016. UK-based consultant Faithful+Gould is the project manager and employer’s representative on the scheme.

How to train your dragon boat

Now to the West Reservoir Centre in north London and the 16th annual construction industry dragon boat challenge to raise money for homelessness charity CRASH. Over 40 teams battled it out over the 200m distance last week and after several rounds of competition Balfour Beatty’s Charioteers were crowned overall champions. The Charioteers won after overhauling British Gyspsum’s Board and Plastered, who had held pole position for most of the day. AKT II Komodo Crew won the mixed male and female category. Bancroft won the sponsorship award after raising an impressive £3,800 for CRASH. Two crews from Building’s publisher UBM performed with gusto but not a great deal of speed, with both finishing towards the back of the pack. However, our Eco Warriors team did win the best dressed award for their fetching superhero outfits. The event as a whole raised £27,800. Congratulations to all involved.

How to train your dragon boat 2

Staying with the dragonboat challenge, word reaches me the team fielded by Keepmoat, Keepmoat Dragons, had a team member who competes for Great Britain and is a world champion in the sport. A ringer, perhaps? Keepmoat claims not. Apparently the dragonboater in question, Ian Rains, is a bid manager for the contractor in his day job. Despite Rains’ pedigree in the sport, Keepmoat Dragons could only make the semi finals and ranked second place in the mixed competition. Can we expect more world champion dragonboaters to miraculously find their way onto construction firm’s payrolls by next year’s competition? Only time will tell.

Laugh a minute

The Institution of Civil Engineers’ latest State of the Nation report on UK infrastructure, published last week, makes for sobering reading. Thankfully, then the mood at the launch at Great George Street was lightened when a mobile phone rang through the hallowed halls at the very second ICE president Geoff French had asked attendees to ensure they were switched off. The jovial atmosphere continued with the arrival of former new Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis. Adonis entered the House of Lords in 2005 at the tender age of just 42, one of just 4% of
peers under the age of 50. He revealed that as he entered the chamber for the first time, he was able to audibly pick out one of the more seasoned members commenting on his arrival by saying: “My God, it’s child labour.” Anyone for Lords reform?

Noisy neighbours?

Noisy neighbours?

It has been reported that 30 St Mary Axe (better known as the Gherkin) is close to being sold, with a £640m price tag. But could potential buyers be put off by noisy neighbours? Many will no doubt have been alarmed to hear that a death metal band, Unfathomable Ruination, has taken up residence outside the Gherkin to play their songs throughout the summer. But they can relax, because the band is being hermetically sealed and soundproofed in a tiny steel cube as part of an art installation by Portuguese artist João Onofre. Only the residues of the sound vibrations from the box will attest to the sealed performance. Rock on!

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