June 2009

…training your staff for the Olympics?

Yorkshire-based contractor Strategic Team Group is offering its employees an unusual perk – health and fitness training through a tax-efficient ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme offered by BBM Wellness. The BBM in question are rugby league player Rob Burrows (pictured above giving a massage to STG’s Andy Watson), cyclist Ashley Brown and sports therapist Jim Murgatroyd. STG’s staff can pay between £25 and £500 a month for services such as personal training, sports management and stress management. What exactly you get for £500 a month isn’t clear, but for that kind of money we’d expect training from Seb Coe and a guaranteed place at London 2012.

…preparing for a world ruled by robots?

Sci-fi paranoiacs will have cause for alarm this month as construction products firm Husqvarna unveils the new DXR 310 Demolition Robot. Promising to ‘bring creativity to demolition’, it may put nervous readers in mind of the 2004 Will Smith flick I Robot, set in a future 25 years on where humans have become dependent on robots for their every need – and become easy targets when the machines learn to think and decide to start killing. And isn’t there something a little bit Terminator about the claim that ‘the Husqvarna DXR 310 can enter practically anywhere…’ Start installing those circuit breakers.

…picking up a construction-themed snack?

Good news... Builder’s Breakfast flavour crisps has won the public vote in the Walkers ‘Do us a Flavour’ competition and will becomes a permanent fixture in newsagents and supermarkets. Emma Rushin from Belper, Derbyshire, was inspired by a combination of bacon, buttered toast, eggs and ketchup, and scooped £50,000 and the chance to meet celebrity judges Heston Blumenthal, Gary Lineker and Fearne Cotton. We wish the new flavour well and all that, but wonder exactly what kind of fry up doesn’t feature sausage, baked beans or even mushrooms? We’ll stick to our usual, thanks.

…erecting a Swiss-style ‘gabarit’?

Following clocks, shady bank accounts and underground anti-matter factories, we bring news of another innovation from the Swiss, this time directed at the planning system. After applying for planning permission, Swiss builders erect a ‘gabarit’ – an outline of proposed schemes built from scaffolding or timber to bring the drawings to life for local residents. UK construction managers might find another use for gabarits – there would be no excuse for subbies to get it wrong if all they had to do was build between the lines…

…spending some of your bonus on a super-luxury yacht?

Lord Foster of Thames Bank, aka Stormin’ Norman, has again divided the architectural community – this time with his design for a £15m super-luxury yacht. Ocean Emerald measures 41 metres, is kitted out in faux leather and marble effect veneer, and has a master suite with two ensuite bathrooms. But it’s the yacht’s lines that have provoked outrage in the architectural blogosphere. ‘An ocean-going stapler,’ was one of the kinder verdicts. ‘The most inelegant nose ever. Just awful,’ said another.