All posts by Marina Ranger

The Gramophone Works, located at 326 Kensal Road, London, W10 5BZ, will be a new landmark canal-side commercial hub comprising a mix of refurbished and extended office spaces. We were appointed as Project Managers and Cost Consultants to refurbish and extend the existing 35,414 ft2 (GIA) building to provide an office development of 88,016 ft2 (GIA), comprising 1,119 ft2 (NIA) of café and 62,253 ft2 (NIA) of B1 office space within the new 6-storey building.

 

The scheme promotes the use of new sustainable technologies with the latest in timber technology and the development is also committed to integrating the scheme into the surrounding neighbourhood through its historic and social features and aspects. The Gramophone Works was the Environmental Prize Winner at New London Awards 2021.

 

The extensive sustainability credentials of the scheme include:

 

•  Solar shaded curtain walling prevents overheating while allowing the maximum amount of natural light to be admitted through the building’s windows.

 

•  Generous terraces with planting and open doors provide natural cross-ventilation, which minimises energy consumption.

 

•  The use of an off-site manufactured structural timber frame to enable a more condensed construction program, reducing the number of heavy goods deliveries and the need for site storage.

 

•  The CLT and Glulam have over 1000 tonnes of embedded CO2 sourced from sustainable forests.

 

•  Structural elements that avoid waste, construction traffic and activity to reduce embodied carbon footprint.

 

•  High-quality end of journey facilities and cycle storage is provided in the basement to encourage sustainable modes of transport.

 

After its completion, the Gramophone Works will be the largest CLT and Glulam Office building in the Europe. We are delighted to be part of the team:

 

Client / Funder: Resolution Property

PM/EA & QS: Quartz Project Services

Architect: Studio RHE

Structural Engineer: Heyne Tillett Steel

MEP Engineer: Atelier Ten

Planning Consultant: GVA

Contractor: Graham Construction

 

 

Work began on Campus, Reading International in June 2021. The scheme will offer 1,500 sq ft to 180,000 sq ft of extensively refurbished collaborative and community-focused office space. The project comprises the creation of a new reception and entrance archway, new building restaurant and workspace area, new gym, changing and cycling facilities, a yoga studio, a multi-function event space, a town hall facility and more to provide a market leading amenity and wellness provision.

 

Our clients, Alchemy Asset Management and Tristan Capital Partners, intend the building to be an exemplar of contemporary refurbishment and repositioning in the business park market. This is particularly important in a post Covid environment where ESG credentials and Wellness have come to the forefront. Campus will deliver a truly unique scheme that sets a benchmark for the future of offices.

 

Specifically, the market is now encouraging intentional office design to foster a culture of health and well-being for occupiers. Therefore, we can say that wellness in the workplace is becoming a rapidly emerging topic and there is a wider change in the way the industry is thinking about sustainability.

 

Campus, Reading International will target a WELL rating of ‘Platinum’, WELL Health-Safety certification, a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’ and a WiredScore rating of ‘Platinum’, as well as a displacement ventilation system, which will deliver the cleanest air and maximum air volumes post Covid.

 

The Displacement ventilation system reduces the amount of airborne contaminants in the environment because, unlike a traditional mixed-mode system, the displacement system supplies 100% fresh air at a low level and then extracts polluted air at a high level. There is no recirculation of the polluted air unlike, say, a 4 pipe system that only delivers about 20% fresh air. The displacement system also moves away from traditional fossil fuel combustion and towards a mechanical plant that is fully operational on electric power via heat pump technology and a green energy supply.

 

Throughout the project, the design team focused on circular economy principles to reduce waste and increase the reuse of materials. To date 98% of the waste from the construction works has been diverted from landfills.

 

A project goal was also to promote sustainable forms of transport and futureproof the building. The building will now have120 electrical vehicle chargers for both tenants and visitors and extensive cycling provision including bike storage, electric bike charging, drying facilities and showers.

 

The on-site 4,000 sq ft gym will have state of the art equipment and live as well as recorded classes for its members.  There is also a multifunctional space that will allow building occupants to hold catered meetings for internal and external purposes. There are no other buildings in the immediate market which offer landlord managed gym and wellness amenities to the scale of Campus.

 

Here are some fantastic photos of Campus, Reading International. It is a real privilege to work on this stunning building.

 

The material shortages in the construction industry continue to worsen and according to the Office for National Statics (ONS), in July 2021 the cost of materials rose by 20%. This caused a decline in monthly construction output by 1.6% in July compared with June, falling to £13,660 million, and follows the 1.3% monthly decline in June 2021. The situation is likely to remain a problem for 6 to 9 more months, at least till the end of 2021, as the knock-on effects from Covid and Brexit remain evident.

 

Timber, roof tiles and cement heads are few of the list of materials in short supply while the demand is steeply increasing. From a wider perspective, the world’s consumption of raw materials is set to nearly double by 2060 as the global economy expands and living standards rise, which will cause twice the pressure on existing demand. According to an OECD report published in 2019, there will be 167 Gigatons of raw materials usage in the construction industry in 2060. To put that into context, one gigaton equates to 10,000 fully-loaded U.S. aircraft carriers!

 

The current market disruption could be an opportunity to help us drive  greener, cleaner, and more sustainable construction practices in the industry by forcing the use of recycled materials where possible. What further steps can be taken to mitigate the problems associated with the material shortage?

 

  1.  Planning well in advance
  2. Working closely with the supply chain and keeping in tight communication
  3. Discovering cheap and environmental substitute materials. Using services such as ENVIRONMATE (free leftover building materials marketplace)
  4. Allowing for longer lead times
  5. Sourcing locally
  6. Using reclaimed building materials, which can also be a solution to net zero government intentions. This would also avoid over reliance on Europe.
  7. Use recycled materials where possible
  8. Meeting British testing standards
  9. Refurbish buildings instead of demolition where possible

 

 

Daniel Gillespie, Director at Quartz Project Services shares his thoughts on how we can come up with sustainable ideas to help solve the material shortage problem.

“ We have and must start to think earlier and differently. At Quartz, we engage this process from inception, the ‘green agenda’ starts at the first meeting and stays a constant workflow through the duration of the development, occupation and life cycle costs. We are approaching schemes differently to be on point with the shift in the market conditions and demand. “

 

Marina Ranger has recently completed and passed her Level 5 HR Diploma, meaning she is now a member of the CIPD body at Associate level! We asked Marina few questions about what it took to gain the qualification and what motivated her during this time. Here is what she says…

 

           

 

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Marina Ranger and I am the Head of Operations at Quartz Project Services.

 

What does your role involve?

I am responsible for Quartz’s business operations which includes responsibilities within HR, Marketing, Innovation, Finance, Sustainability, IT etc. so I do a wide variety of tasks. I’m a ‘jack of all’!

 

Please tell us about your recent HR certificate.

Before I joined Quartz, I decided to study for a Level 5 HR Diploma, which would certify me as a member of CIPD at Associate level and help me in my future roles as the person responsible for HR in the business. The certification, which I have just received gives me an in-depth understanding of HR laws, policies and ways of working, which I knew would be transferrable in my working career.

 

Why did you decide to do the course?

I knew I would have extra time on my hands as we were in lockdown and HR was always a part of my role that I knew was fundamental to any business I was working for but also something I felt I had learning to do in. I love learning and improving my skill set so I thought the course would not only make me more qualified to give HR advice but would also make me more confident in my role and equally better at it!

 

What was required of you in terms of workload during the course?

There was on average 8 hours of reading each week and a 3,000 – 4,000 word essay every 4-6 weeks. A lot!

 

Was it difficult to balance work responsibilities and your course requirements?

Yes and no. It was certainly stressful at times but I am quite good at compartmentalising different things I have going on and prioritising all the different things going on in life. Generally, it took up my weekends and some late week night evenings, which was a sacrifice I had to make!

 

You’ve been at Quartz for a while now, what keeps you motivated?

Mainly the people I work with! Having a good bunch of colleagues to work with is a great incentive to work hard as you feel you are doing the work for a team. Knowing the work I do will also keep me learning and growing is also a motivator for myself.

 

What are your plans for the future now you’ve got your certificate?

Start trying to put my HR Management skills to practice and adding more value to Quartz!

 

Thank you Marina and look forward to your continued progress and success at Quartz!

UK lockdown has brought a great deal of change in every industry, including construction. Many construction companies and their workplaces have begun to consider new technological processes within digital and automated environments. This is not something new, however the widespread adaptation has become irreversible since the Covid-19 pandemic. As said by Hans Vestberg, “Disruption may be unprecedented, but things will never move so slowly again”.

 

 

For starters, a shift to remote working forced companies into using online software, particularly Cloud servers to maintain efficienct with effective communication channels given the forced lack of human interaction and hence face to face meetings. While we missed office life and believe nothing can truly replace interactions in person, it has brought a variety of opportunities and advantages for future working environments. We can frame it as shaping a new digital habit! Here is a small taste of the benefits seen:

 

  1. Increased efficiencies with real time, up-to-date information flows
  2. Enabled regular backups on web-based filling systems
  3. Increased data collection, supporting productivity and efficiency in the long run through analysis
  4. Greater focus on structural stability
  5. Adaptation of smart technologies
  6. Opportunity for a wider talent pool
  7. Improvised, new ideas

 

What lies ahead?

 

  1. The industry will become more data savvy, which is a big change for the construction industry that is typically traditional in it’s working approach.
  2. Construction professionals who understand new digital advancements and software’s will be in great demand.
  3. Technological advances could revolutionise almost all points of the construction cycle of a built asset, from conceptualisation to demolition.
  4. There will be an increase in the use of technology to lower a building’s carbon footprint and the use of resources and building models.
  5. By adopting new technologies, the construction industry will be dominated with mega-projects to build smart and sustainable cities.

 

We all know how important it is to gain work experience while studying for a degree. According to CIPD, two thirds of employers look for candidates with relevant hands-on experience.  However, it is really challenging to find a job while trying to maintain balance between work and studies. Quartz recognises this and supports students to help them gain industry experience as a stepping point in their life long  career. Here is an interview with Phoebe who has been a Project Assistant at Quartz for 2 years now while studying to complete her post-graduate degree:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself ?

I graduated from Newcastle University with a First in Architecture in 2018, however decided that becoming a designer wasn’t for me. I took a year out post degree and went on a ski season. I joined Quartz the following summer in June 2019 as an Assistant Project Manager. Although becoming an Architect wasn’t for me, I still loved buildings and construction and thought that the more managerial aspect of construction would be better suited  to me. I started my postgraduate course at Westminster University Reading in Construction Project Management in September 2019 (part-time course, split over two years).

 

How do you manage both your studies and the workload at Quartz?

With a lot of difficulty haha! It is unbelievably hard work trying to balance the two. I find that I have to work late most evenings and almost every weekend, both days to fit my Masters work around Quartz.

 

How has working at Quartz helped you in your studies? 

I have found that a lot of the content of my masters work are around topics and subjects that I deal with on a daily basis as part of my Quartz work and so in this sense, my work at Quartz has been very helpful for my degree. Conversely, my masters studies have really helped fill in a lot of blanks in my learning at Quartz.

 

Can you give us an example of when you have felt supported by your colleagues during a busy and challenging time in your studies?

 

There have been a number of occasions when I have had to take annual leave to complete certain bits of coursework or revise for exams etc. Quartz have always been very accommodating when I need to take time away from work to do this.

Does Quartz take any initiatives to manage the work- life balance of employees? If so, how have these initiatives affected you?

 

Employees have to answer a workload questionnaire every Friday that provides us with the opportunity to alert our Directors to whether we have too much on our plate (or not enough as well). Our POD calls also provide us with the same opportunity.

 

Which factors played a role in your success, both at work and university?

Being organised and disciplined about just getting the work done and trying to stay on top of all of it. Don’t leave things until the last minute! Trying to manage my stress has been very difficult over the last two years and is a constant effort on my part (still not very good at it).

Thank you Phoebe and look forward to your continued progress and success at Quartz!

 

 

Understanding and addressing the impact that we as a business create on the environment and society is of pressing importance. In order to fully understand and ultimately reduce our environmental impact, we have worked with RLJ Consulting to carry out a full Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Quartz’s business operations.

 

We are really pleased to begin this journey and have proudly covered scope 1, 2 and 3 for 2020 as a first step to become Carbon Neutral and in the future a Net Zero Carbon organisation. This is an important step in understanding the impact that Quartz has on the environment and provides a starting point to make improvements moving forward. The breakdown of the emitting activists associated with Quartz Project Services such as business travel are activities that are in the control of the business and are where improvements can be made.

 

Read here, all about the start of our carbon neutral journey:

 

Kisharon is a secure and stimulating environment for children with complex learning disabilities. Quartz are delighted to have contributed to Kisharon to help them provide innovative support to pupils, fulfilling their unique and individual potential.

Our support helped the ability to offer 3,000 hours of supported employment every year at Kisharon for pupils to have high quality learning experience.

 

When the outside world experiences change that is beyond our control, it is important to adapt to those changes and accelerate the way in which we respond to those external factors. We must constantly remain ahead of future challenges thrown at us. Ironically, we should take a leaf out of the virus’ book; we know too well how quick it is at adapting and being steps ahead of us.

 

With Quartz now safely returning to the office, we acknowledge the new ‘business as usual’ with a great sense of responsibility. Because really, it is not ‘business as usual’. While our output of our work remains wholly unaffected and things are in fact busier than ever, we have implemented internal operational changes to facilitate the changes to the outside world.

 

It would be unwise to ignore the acceleration of change happening in the world. Especially in terms of digital solutions and technology infrastructures, which Quartz has taken the necessary steps to evolve with, while maintaining efficient operations.

 

More now than ever, the construction industry is an integral part of supporting our economy. Our focus as ever is to process and complete projects on schedule and on budget with the highest quality of delivery. Our accomplishments and changes are strengthening our resilience, and we see this knock on to the clients and partners we work with.

 

Our continuity plan has reshaped a number of things at Quartz:

 

  1. First and foremost, we ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and their families, plus all the stakeholders we work with including clients and consultants through a safe environment to work in, whether at home, in the office or onsite including
  2. More people! We have grown phenomenally over the last quarter and that is testament to our high referral rate gaining us new work
  3. We have adopted an online desk booking system for WFH/office attendance
  4. All staff have access to digital consultations through our Private Health Care and Cash Plan schemes for mental health, wellbeing, and general healthcare support
  5. Improvements to our reporting capabilities with the use of videos and more visual recognitions
  6. Weekly company calls on Monday mornings
  7. Friday afternoon ‘Fun’ sessions of all sorts for everyone to take part in
  8. Internal ‘Coffee Calls’
  9. Clear communication via Microsoft Teams on Office 365
  10. Maximising the use of web-based file-sharing systems
  11. Offering opportunities to young people through the Government’s Kickstart Scheme