And finally…

A (sometimes) light hearted look at the weird and wonderful world of construction

And finally… Zigzag-shaped hotel will allow visitors to ski down from its roof

Architects at BIG have released plans for a new zigzag-shaped hotel in Switzerland from which guests will be invited to descend from the roof on skis towards the slopes of Vallée de Joux.

Called Audemars Piguet Hotel des Horlogers, the complex will include hotel rooms, two restaurants, a bar, a spa and a conference centre that are tucked under the inclined slabs and oriented towards light and views to become individual destinations along the exterior path.

“The studio expands five zigzagging room slabs into gently sloping exterior path, leading directly to the museum and local ski trails. On the exterior, the building creates a continues sloping corridor, connecting the rooms, facilitating visitor and service circulation,” said BIG in its project statement.

“From the main access road, the hotel’s tilting slabs frame views of the surrounding Vallée de Joux, establishing a concretion between the village and the pastoral landscape.”

BIG will work on this project with local firm CCHE and is scheduled to open to the public in 2020.

All images courtesy of BIG.

And finally…raising the roof

A multi-million-pound building project currently under way in Dundee has had to reapply for planning permission because the developers wanted to raise the roof height by a mere 10 inches.

The £6 million Anton House scheme constitutes 19 flats and three homes at the rear of a mansion on the city’s Forthill Road.

The local Evening Telegraph newspaper reports that Chamberlain Bell Developments asked Dundee City Council for permission to raise the original height of the roof ridge by 260mm (10in) to accommodate the depth of the roof structure required.

They also requested a number of other minor variations such as changes to the style of windows.

Much to the relief of the developers, planning officers gave the green light to the alterations.

Local councillor Craig Duncan said: “I’m told that the changes are just changes in the style of some windows and that the roof will be slightly higher.

“When it was agreed by the council at committee in August last year, there were quite a lot of conditions attached but the council officers have been happy with alterations. Provided neighbours and residents have been consulted and are happy, then I don’t think there is any problem.”

And finally… Highland civils firm offers free pothole filling service

The boss of a Highland civil engineering firm is helping a cash-strapped council by filling in potholes for free.

Mark Armstrong realised he could use leftover asphalt from road laying jobs his staff had completed elsewhere. Now he fills in potholes in his local area, paying his workers for the extra time required.

Mr Armstrong, who owns MA Ventures and employs 15 people in Alness, Easter Ross, told the BBC Scotland News website the move benefits his business by saving him money in vehicle repairs.

He said: “I had a couple of incidents with potholes which caused significant damage to our vehicles.

“We do a lot of tarring work on roads in the north and we were dumping a lot of material at the end of jobs.

“I thought instead of dumping it, we could put it to good use.”

Mark contacted Highland Council who took up his offer of help.

He added: “The council gets a lot of grief over this but it’s not their fault. They just haven’t got the funding.

“Their priority is the A and B roads. So we try to take care of the local roads, mainly housing estates that the council would never get round to.”

The only cost to Mark is to pay his men for doing the work – which he says they are happy to do.

He is now encouraging any other companies in a similar position to do the same.

“If you are in construction and have the resources, I don’t see why you wouldn’t get involved.

“It benefits everybody and it’s great for community spirit.”

Highland councillor Carolyn Wilson said Mark’s offer of help was gratefully received:

“I was delighted when Mark came to me,” she said.

“It is great to find someone who is public-spirited with a bit of common sense.

“I don’t think we would ever get around to doing these smaller roads.

“Highland Council maintains the roads in a third of the geographical area of Scotland. Our roads department could spend millions and still not get everything done.”

And finally… World’s first amphitheatre made out of pianos planned for Edinburgh

Plans have been revealed to build an amphitheatre made from 50 pianos in Edinburgh.

Run in partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), the 100-seater Pianodrome is an interactive sculpture, acoustic concert venue, lecture theatre and musical instrument which will host a full programme of workshops, community projects and live arts events.

A total of £10,000 was required to be raised to build it before the launch in August.

The project is the vision of the Edinburgh-based artist Tim Vincent-Smith and producer Matt Wright who have formed the Pianodrome Community Interest Company.

Vincent-Smith is an artist and musician who co-founded, designed and built the interior of Atlantis Books in Oia in Santorini, Greece which was described as a “dream of a bookstore” by Vanity Fair last year.

Vincent-Smith said of the Pianodrome: “This is a radical reimagining of what the piano is and can be in today’s throw away culture.

“No piano is junk. No person is ‘unmusical’. The Pianodrome is a musical instrument and performance place free for everyone. All you have to do is play.”

In partnership with the RBGE, the Pianodrome team will programme a series of cultural events which will form the highlight of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s Summer 2018 arts programme.

And finally…key used to open Glasgow School of Art in 1899 sells for £32,000

A key designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to open Glasgow School of Art has been sold this week for £32,000.

The sale, which took place in the year of the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth, was made to help raise funds for the restoration of the fire-damaged masterpiece building in Glasgow city centre.

Sir James King, who sold the key and is the direct descendant of the Sir James King, the Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1886-9 who opened the building with it, said: “I am delighted that a percentage of today’s sale will be donated to the restoration fund for the Mackintosh Campus Appeal.”

Sir James and auction house Lyon & Turnbull will donate a percentage of the sale to The Mackintosh Campus Appeal, the £32 million fundraising campaign launched following the blaze which badly damaged the Mackintosh Building in May 2014.

Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh especially for the opening ceremony of the building he designed, the key was presented to Sir James by six-year-old Miss Mary Newbery, daughter of Fra Newbery, director of The Glasgow School of Art, who then unlocked the door.

The key, which has not been seen in public since the opening ceremony on December 20, 1899, achieved a hammer price of £32,000 at the sale at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on Wednesday, with £8000 commission on top.

The key has been bought by Sir Ludo Shaw Stewart, owner of the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip, Inverclyde where it will go on show at Ardgowan House.

He said “I am delighted that the key will remain in Scotland, it will take pride of place on show at Ardgowan House.

“I have a particular interest in the key and the Glasgow School of Art as one of my forebears was a founding father of the first School of Art in Glasgow, started in 1753 by brothers Andrew and Robert Foulis, a precursor and inspiration to the later Mackintosh School.

“The key is a beautiful object and we look forward to welcoming it to its new home.”

And finally…Balfour Beatty scores Gold at Commonwealth Games

Balfour Beatty Summer Placement student and sharpshooter David McMath has won Commonwealth gold in the men’s ‘Double Trap’ shooting event for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Bisbane after an exciting final.

As the ‘Double Trap’ name suggests, two targets are released simultaneously and one shot is taken at each. A consistently reliable technique and precision accuracy are necessities for success in this event at an International level.

Born in Dumfries, 21 year old David, a Civil Engineering undergraduate at Strathclyde University, has completed graduate placements with Balfour Beatty’s construction business in Scotland where he worked on projects as a Site Engineer Assistant including; the A75 Garroch Roundabout, the Clyde wind farm and the Perth Transport Futures Project.

David McMath said: “I am absolutely thrilled to both represent and win Commonwealth gold for Scotland. When the celebrations are over I look forward to returning back to Scotland and resume my work at Balfour Beatty before completing my Civil Engineering degree.”

Hector MacAulay, managing director of Balfour Beatty’s regional business in Scotland & Ireland, said: “As his expert performance proves, David has a keen eye and sharp focus on his targets. David has a great career in Civil Engineering in his sights and we look forward to welcoming him back to Balfour Beatty before completing his studies. All at Balfour Beatty would like to congratulate David on his superb Commonwealth gold medal.”

And finally…mummified monkey found during shop revamp

Builders carrying out the redevelopment of an old department store the American state of Minnesota have been shocked to discover the mummified remains of a monkey in the process.

Workers found the carcass last week in an air duct on the seventh floor of the century-old Dayton’s building in Minneapolis.

A spokeswoman for the Dayton’s Project, an office, retail and restaurant complex going into the building, said the developers were at a loss as to where the monkey came from, or how it ended up in the air duct.

But a local historical Facebook page posted a picture of the bizarre find in a bid to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Alan Freed, as co-administrator for the Old Minneapolis page, said one of the more likely answers to come from the appeal came from someone who posted up to say a longtime Dayton’s employee had told him a monkey escaped from an eighth-floor pet store into the air conditioning ductwork in the 1960s.

And finally…Scottish homebuilder develops new site manager app

A new initiative by Miller Homes is helping drive home efficiencies in its business following the introduction of a new, tailor made site manager app.

The app has been designed by the housebuilder’s in-house IT and production teams to create a more streamlined process for the recording, accessing and sharing of data between site teams and office-based staff.

Site managers can use the app on site via a smart phone or tablet to input information relating to build programmes and also access relevant customer, plot and development information.

As the app is synced with Miller Homes IT systems, office-based procurement teams can more carefully monitor and manage material supplies to ensure greater certainty around build programmes.

Graeme Stirling, IT Director at Miller Homes, said: “We are continually seeking to identify ways in which we can operate more efficiently as a business and to ensure we maximise our time spent on site building high-quality homes.

“This new app not only means our site managers can spend more time on site as they no longer have the burden of paperwork to deal with when they get back to their desk, but our procurement teams can ensure more certainty around the delivery of construction programmes through increased visibility of build progress. Our customer journey is also enhanced by providing a more innovative experience for buyers whilst their new home is under construction.”

The app helps keep customers informed about how their new home is progressing and ensures greater accuracy of data being recorded.  Site managers can also scan barcodes of utilities and white goods, using a tablet or phone’s camera, along with viewing and updating build programmes, plot build status, energy readings, snagging items, health and safety records as well as plans and customer options.

The site manager’s app is the latest in a raft of new innovations from Miller Homes, which last year became the first major UK housebuilder to develop an online reservations service for buyers looking to secure their dream property.

And finally…the pothole repairing machine of the future revealed


And finally… Developers uncover historic slaughterhouse under Grassmarket

How the completed King’s Stables Road development will look

Remains of Edinburgh’s historic cattle market have been discovered buried beneath a development site in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh.

Archaeologists have found evidence of a slaughterhouse and well dating back to the 19th century at King’s Stables Road.

The former Silk nightclub has been knocked down to make way for a hotel, a student housing complex and dozens of new private homes.

The area became popular for cattle and horse markets between the 15th and 19th century because the sale of animals was forbidden within the city walls.

Bruce Glendinning, project manager at CFA Archaeology, which is carrying out work on site for developer Bowmer and Kirkland, told The Scotsman: “We’ve been on-site since November, undertaking archaeological excavations and watching briefs in advance of the ongoing construction work. Given the sensitivity of the site, including its location in the heart of the Old Town, we undertook prior evaluation works, which identified potential medieval deposits at a depth of two metres below the surface.

“The development has been designed to allow archaeological investigation to take place during the construction programme. We’ve found the remains of the mid-19th century slaughterhouse that formerly occupied the site. The wall lines and cobbled floors were buried below the more recent structure that was demolished in advance of construction. The Silk nightclub appears to have incorporated parts of 19th century buildings, so what we’ve found seem to be associated with them.”

Donald Wilson, culture convener at the city council, said: “In an ancient city like Edinburgh, sometimes it can feel like a new archaeological discovery is made every time a spade is dug into the ground.

“This latest finding gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘watering hole’ since the remains of an old well were found under what used to be a nightclub. It is believed it could have been used to water cattle at the slaughterhouse, which once stood on the site.

“The remains will add to our understanding of what life was like hundreds of years ago. They remind us how names like King’s Stables Road, Cowgate and the Grassmarket weren’t given by chance. They very specifically relate to the history of this area. This is a part of the city where cattle were once fed and watered before being sold and slaughtered at market. This is another interesting glimpse into the story of our Old Town.”

Philip Bates, senior project manager at Bowmer and Kirkland, said: “We knew there was potential for something to be uncovered because of the site’s location and the history of the area.”