As you may have read in the press, the Scottish parliament had some issues with cost and time overruns. What you may not know is that the cost overruns would have been worse without the expertise of this Northern Irish contractor. Mivan had been awarded the £40m interior fit-out contract. It began by using a 3D CAD model to look at the strikingly shaped vaulted ceilings in the parliament’s committee room. It then created a factory mock-up of the design and worked out a cost efficient way of building it using MDF ribs and lathing with grg edging, plasterboard and a plaster finish. But that was just a taster of what was to come: the parliament was one enormous bespoke, expressionist puzzle box. Many doors and windows were completely unique; none could be bought from a catalogue. Mivan had to produce the hugely complex general arrangement drawings for the other subbies. The best comment on Mivan’s success in doing all of this is provided by Ross Milne, a senior architect at RMJM. He said: “The team would work tirelessly to achieve the design intent with unconventional construction methods.” Hence the coveted top prize in this highly prestigious category.

Mivan’s expertise in pre-fabrication helped it achieve the complex geometries inside the Scottish parliament’s debating chamber

Mivan’s expertise in pre-fabrication helped it achieve the complex geometries inside the Scottish parliament’s debating chamber



Lakesmere’s ability to handle state-of-the -art design is celebrated in the innovations category these awards, where its work on the Welsh assembly building was applauded. Here we should mention the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. The firm’s approach to design can be summed up in the motto: one hour’s clever design can save a week of work on site. This was borne out by the Spinnaker, a structurally complex landmark with viewing platforms and difficult glass work. In particular, it had to design the glass so that it would withstand the deflection of the surrounding frame in rough weather. This it did with an articulated top bearing that included a sliding connection at the base of the viewing platform that is designed to accommodate erratic movements. The installation of the glass on a constrained site required careful planning and control of the individual components, and before the installation, Lakesmere carried out a number of rehearsals to make sure it would work efficiently and safely on the real thing.

Mitie Engineering

It was Kier Western that asked Mitie to help it tender for a £2.5m secondary school in a suburb of Bristol called Bradley Stoke. So many houses had been built in the area that it left little room to put a school. In fact, the only place it could go was a greenfield site next to a motorway where the external noise level was between 60 and 65 dB. The client had specified a traditional supply and extract ventilation system. Mitie decided not to provide this because of the expense and the likely quality of the air. On the other hand, natural ventilation was problematic because opening windows would let the noise in. So, Mitie decided to go for a system by which each classroom was provided with an attenuated acoustic air supply system. This is operated by sensors, the air is filtered, tempered and operated only when the rooms are in occupation. The air then transfers into corridors to provide secondary ventilation, via acoustic ducts. Not surprisingly, it won the contract for itself and its partner.