And finally…

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

And finally… Study reveals how construction workers remain physically fit as they age

Canadian researchers have uncovered a mysterious ‘physical wisdom’ used by skilled trades that enables them to work fast and safely to minimise physical strain.

The University of Waterloo, in Ontario, fitted construction workers with motion sensors and used artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to assess the impact of physical work on their bodies.

Researchers found that skilled bricklayers used previously unidentified techniques to limit loads on their joints, and master masons did not follow standard ergonomic rules taught to novices.

Instead, they had developed their own ways of working quickly and safely, for example ‘swinging’ blocks more often than lifting them and bending their backs less.

Carl Haas, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Waterloo, who led the research with colleague Eihab Abdel-Rahman, told the RIBA Journal: “It’s fascinating that for about 100 years we have been studying how masons do their work and how to make work more efficient and safe, but only now do we have the tools to dive in and figure out how some can keep working safely and productively when they are 65. It’s as if skilled trades learn or acquire a kind of physical wisdom that they can’t even articulate.”

Researchers first analysed the performance of bricklayers of various levels of experience wearing sensor suits while building a wall of concrete blocks. The data showed that expert workers put less stress on their bodies, but were able to do much more work.

A follow up study was carried out to determine how master masons manage to work so efficiently. Sensors were used to record their movements and AI programs identified common patterns for body positions.

“I believe the techniques are learned, or discovered by workers over time,” said Haas. “It’s very different from the classic taught ergonomic techniques which are safe if you try to follow them, but make you slow and unproductive if you want to work dynamically. This is like a highly developed skill, akin to those of professional sports players.”

It is hoped that insights gleaned here can be passed on to apprentices in training programmes to help reduce wear-and-tear injuries and boost productivity.

The researchers are now planning a more in-depth study to shed further light on the physical mechanisms at play. A system is being developed so that sensor suits can give trainees immediate feedback so they can modify movements to reduce stress on their bodies.

Musculoskeletal injuries are a significant problem in bricklaying that have caused many workers and apprentices to drop out of the industry prematurely.

And finally… Dozens of perfectly preserved dinosaur eggs discovered on construction site

A group of Chinese construction workers reportedly unearthed a strange gift on Christmas: a batch of 30 well-fossilized dinosaur eggs in the city of Ganzhou.

According to China News, the workers made the discovery while preparing to set off explosives.

The workers were instructed to stop and contact a local museum. Local researchers believe the eggs are anywhere from 70-130 million years old based on the purple sandstone layer of earth in which the eggs were found. That would mean the eggs were laid during the Cretaceous Period, which ended in dinosaurs’ extinction.

In April 2015, workers made a similar discovery in Heyuan city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. A construction team found a clutch of 43 fossilized dinosaur eggs while repairing a road.

And finally… Star Wars fans create time-lapse video showing construction of Death Star

Fans of the Star Wars series have shed light on the most impossible of construction projects – the building of the Death Star.

We got a quick glimpse at the early stages of the moon-sized laser cannon at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but it wasn’t completed onscreen until the events of Rogue One.

Now brothers Isaac and Benjamin Botkin have collaborated in making a small film that showed just how the weapon of mass destruction was constructed, using the magic of time-lapse.

Isaac made the visuals in Lightwave 3D, a popular graphics program commonly used for film and television effects, while Benjamin composed the score, mimicking the epic style of John Williams’ iconic work.

And finally… Images preview London’s skyline in 2026

View from City Hall

The City of London is getting taller. With 13 new schemes consented, under construction or due to start construction in its eastern cluster, the pipeline means that the City skyline will look a lot different in ten years’ time.

New CGIs commissioned by the City of London Corporation show how the skyline of London’s financial district will be affected by 2026, based on current plans. The images show a group of 13 skyscrapers that have been consented, are under construction or are due to start construction imminently.

View from Fleet Street

Around 60% of the City’s growth is expected to be delivered in the eastern cluster. As of September 2017, there was over 1.37 million square metres of office space under construction in the City with the potential to accommodate 85,000 workers. This compares to 1.22 million square metres in March 2016, before the vote to leave the European Union.

Six of the 13 upcoming developments will have free public viewing galleries. These are 22 Bishopsgate (TwentyTwo), 120 Fenchurch Street, 6-8 Bishopsgate, 1 Leadenhall Street and 1 Undershaft, which will also host a dedicated Museum of London gallery at the top of the building, alongside interactive learning spaces and London’s highest restaurant. These six include 2-3 Finsbury Avenue, located north of the eastern cluster.

Aerial view from East

The City Corporation granted TwentyTwo planning permission on the condition that its deliveries are sent to an offsite consolidation centre. This is the first time an office tower has been subject to such a planning requirement. The City Corporation encourages the use of off-site consolidation to reduce the traffic, safety and environmental impacts of freight while improving safety and still allowing the City to receive the deliveries it needs.

View from South Bank

Chris Hayward, planning committee chairman at the City of London Corporation said: “It is unprecedented to see such a scale of development taking place at one time in the Square Mile. There are now more cranes in the City sky than in recent decades.

“The City’s occupier base is becoming more dynamic, with SMEs and media companies choosing the Square Mile as their home. I am particularly proud that we are able to make available economically inclusive spaces with free public viewing galleries in City skyscrapers.

“Over the next thirty years I expect that we will need to deliver office space for up to 100,000 extra City workers. Therefore iconic buildings such as TwentyTwo will lead the way in ensuring the City remains competitive as a leading financial centre.”

Three tall buildings completed construction in 2016/17 including 1 Creechurch Place in the eastern cluster. Approaching completion were 120 Fenchurch Street, The Scalpel, 22 Bishopsgate, 100 Bishopsgate and 70 St Mary Axe.

Development Height (metres) Status
22 Bishopsgate 294.94 (62 storeys) Under Construction
52 Lime Street (the Scalpel) 206 (36 storeys) Under Construction
100 Bishopsgate 181 (37 storeys) Under Construction
6-8 Bishopsgate/150 Leadenhall Street 185 (50 storeys) Under Construction
70 St Mary Axe 164.3 (21 storeys) Under Construction
150 Bishopsgate 150.92 (41 storeys) Under Construction
120 Fenchurch Street 85 (15 storeys) Under Construction
80 Fenchurch Street 78 (14 storeys) Under Construction
1 Undershaft – the tallest in Eastern Cluster 304.6 (73 storeys) Still subject to S106 Approval
2-3 Finsbury Avenue (Broadgate) north of Eastern Cluster 168.4 (32 storeys) Still subject to S106 Approval
40 Leadenhall Street 170 (34 storeys) Not Commenced
130 Fenchurch Street 105 (17 storeys) Not Commenced
1 Leadenhall Street (corner of Leadenhall Market) 182.7 (36 storeys) Not Commenced

And finally… The best of ‘And finally…’ 2017

Image courtesy of Bruce Makowsky / BAM Luxury Development

Our daily delve into the weird and wonderful world of construction has thrown up some bizarre, innovative and thought-provoking articles. This top ten of the most clicked ‘And finally…’ stories by our readers throughout 2017 is no different.

  1. 12 bedrooms, a bowling alley and helipad complete with helicopter – America’s most expensive house on sale for $250m
  2. Pictish carving found at £35m A9/A85 project
  3. V&A Dundee gets the Star Wars treatment
  4. World’s first 3D printed bridge opens
  5. £50k bat cave opens in Scotland
  6. UK’s smallest castle on sale for £550,000
  7. How the world’s longest immersed tunnel will be built
  8. Morgan Sindall unearths 1,500-year-old skeleton
  9. Remarkably similar plans to Queensferry Crossing unearthed after 200 years
  10. IKEA offers Trump affordable wall construction solution

And finally… Ogilvie’s Christmas arcade game returns

It isn’t Christmas until you’ve played Ogilvie Group’s festive arcade game so stop what you’re doing and have a go at this year’s offering.

Unlike last year, when the aim was to help Santa deliver his presents, this time you have to help him avoid the gifts.

You can find the addictive little number here.

SCN would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience!

And finally… Construction worker exacts revenge on rude driver

When a construction worker in Larkspur, California, encountered a woman who refused to move her car from a construction site reserved parking space, the worker known as BBQLunch on Reddit, decided to extract some revenge.

We’ll let the man himself take up the story….

So this happened earlier today and was too perfect to not share with you guys. I work in construction as the foreman for a new house build. The location is kinda strange, the house is 250 feet up a hill via a foot path only. All of our materials have to come up this foot path by hand, it’s a pain in the ass to manually carry, quite literally, an ENTIRE HOUSE up this hill. One of our saving graces is having the two parking spots on the street at the bottom of this hill marked with official No Parking signs.

Unfortunately there is an elementary school about half a block away and the parents of children seem to regularly (at least twice a day) think it’s ok to park in our spots. Now I consider myself a reasonable person, so if someone is parked in the spots and we don’t have a delivery or a need to park a truck I will let it go. If we need the spots and there’s someone parked there, however, I will ask them to move nicely and most of the time they do so immediately. Until today.

I get a phone call from the lumber delivery truck that is en route to our location, he says he’ll be there in about two or three minutes. I let him know I will meet him at the street and make sure he has space to park. He’s carrying all of the material to frame the roof of our house, which is a lot of really big lumber and will take easily an hour to bring up the hill, so naturally I didn’t want him parked in the middle of the street with his hazards on for an hour, when we have a perfectly good parking spot for him.

As I begin my trip down the hill, I notice there is a school parent sitting in her car idling, assuming she’s just waiting to pick up her child, I walk up to her car and politely let her know that she is parked in a no parking zone and we really need her to clear it to park a delivery truck. She scoffs at me and rudely states back, “I’ll just be a few minutes, and your truck isn’t here, take a chill pill dude.” Before I can respond, a giant lumber truck comes around the corner and I wave to him, and then gesture towards him to the woman in the car who has now put her window back up to ignore me. I put on my best customer service smile and wave at her through the window, she put it down halfway and angrily shouts “WHAT!”

By now the truck has pulled up alongside her car and I politely ask her again, with a stronger tone of voice to move her vehicle, reminding her that she is illegally parked in a tow away zone. Then she gives me this wonderful idea, she says, “Can’t you guys just unload around me? Jesus, it’s not that hard.”

I give her another smile and walk away, a brilliant plan forming in my head. I instruct the delivery driver to park as closely to her as possible and block her in with the porta potty that is at one end of our reserved spots and the parked car that is parked just adjacent to our spots on the other end. He smiles because he immediately gets what I’m trying to do, and proceeds to expertly block this lady and her car into a little two parking spot jail. We unstrap the lumber and my guys begin humping material up the hill, meanwhile I call the police parking enforcement to let them know the situation.

At this point in time I wasn’t trying to get her in trouble, I just wanted a record of why we were blocking part of the street so we don’t get in trouble with the city. The very friendly traffic officer lets me know that she can be there in about 30 minutes and deal with the situation for me, wonderful! As we continue to unload lumber the child of the parent shows up, and wouldn’t you know it Mom is just now realizing that the lumber truck is parked so close she can’t get out of her driver door to meet her kid. She awkwardly clambers across the inside of her car and stumbles out the passenger door, shooting glaring looks at me and the truck driver in the process. She loads her kid into the back and then begins to realize that she has no way of leaving. She comes storming up to myself and the driver and states, “I’m in a big hurry, you need to move your damn truck right now so I can go.”

Before I can respond the driver gets a grin on his face and says, “Ma’am in order to unload the lumber on the truck we had to unstrap it, and per our company policy I’m not allowed to move the truck with any unsecured load on it. Sorry.” This sends her into near aneurysm levels of blood pressure, meanwhile I can barely contain my laughter. “Fuck your policy I have somewhere to be!” She barks back at him.

At this point, with impeccably convenient timing the parking enforcement officer shows up and parks behind the truck. She doesn’t see the officer arrive and while the officer is still getting out of her vehicle I just casually say, “Can’t you just pull out around it? It’s not that hard.” With the biggest shit eating grin I’ve ever had I watch as she realizes that I just used her line on her. “Fuck you!” She yells, and storms back to her car and angrily clambers back in through the passenger door and into the drivers seat.

At this point the officer is walking up to myself and the driver, before she can even introduce herself the Mom in the car slams it into reverse and stomps on the gas, crashing into our porta potty and knocking it over, and then throws the car into drive and tries to mount the curb and drive on the sidewalk. The officer, driver and I are staring in disbelief as she gets halfway over the curb and gets stuck. I can hear her screaming obscenities over the idling truck from inside her car.

The officer promptly walks up to the door of the car and orders her out. My favorite part of the entire thing is watching her face go to shock as she realized she just did all of that in front of a police officer. She gets slapped in cuffs as the parking officer calls for a second unit and she is promptly sat on the very curb she tried to drive over.

She sits on the curb yelling to the now two officers about how we told her she could stay there and that we never asked her to move. The traffic officer responds that she was the one who was originally called when she first refused to move and that she already knows what’s going on. While myself and the driver are giving a report to the second officer, my guys finish moving the remainder of the lumber and the driver finishes his statement and takes off to go back to the yard.

By the end of the ordeal she was arrested, charged with Child Endangerment, (her kid was in the back of the car the whole time) Reckless Driving, Destruction of Property, (the porta potty) and Driving on a Suspended License. On top of all that she also got her car towed, the kid went home with his grandma and she went to spend some quality time in a cell. I never expected her to actually heed my advice to “Just pull out around it.” But I think next time she’ll probably think twice about parking in a tow away zone, if she ever gets a license again.

And finally… Video reconstruction shows historic buildings as they appeared 500 years ago

Historic buildings at the heart of St Andrews have been digitally reconstructed to reveal how they looked nearly 500 years ago before the Reformation changed the face of the town forever.

St Salvator’s Quad and Chapel, at the heart of the University of St Andrews, can now be seen in a virtual recreation which reveals how these historic buildings appeared before the religious changes of the Reformation.

The reconstruction, created by Historians and Computer Scientists at the University, drew from images and manuscripts in the University’s Special Collections department.

This is the first phase of a wider project to digitally recreate the entire burgh of St Andrews as it appeared in 1559 – just before the citizens of the town officially adopted Protestantism and set about transforming the community’s Catholic religious foundations.

The St Andrews 1559 project is led by the University of St Andrews’ Professor Michael Brown, of the School of History, and Dr Alan Miller of the School of Computer Science. The digital model of St Salvator’s was created by Sarah Kennedy of the School of Computer Science, with historical advice from Dr Bess Rhodes of the Schools of History and Computer Science and with help from students.

The St Salvator’s site was chosen as the first release from the St Andrews 1559 project because of its significance in the early phases of the Scottish Reformation. In February 1528 a 24-year-old academic, Patrick Hamilton, was burnt outside the gates of St Salvator’s College for advocating support for the German Reformer Martin Luther’s criticisms of the Catholic Church. Hamilton was the first person to be executed in Scotland for voicing Protestant ideas.

This year marks five centuries since the event regarded as the start of the Protestant Reformation, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses attacking the practices and doctrines of the late Medieval Catholic church in Wittenberg, a University town in Eastern Germany.

Dr Bess Rhodes said: “We selected St Salvator’s as the place to begin our reconstruction as a major landmark in the modern university and the town. It was of course also the scene of one of the most horrific events of the Scottish Reformation – the burning of Patrick Hamilton for his Lutheran beliefs.

“Particularly chillingly, Hamilton’s death was something the university was directly involved in – playing a role in the prosecution and conviction of this very young man. Yet at the same time St Salvator’s has been the scene of fantastic academic achievement and many happy incidents in the University’s history.”

St Salvator’s College was founded in 1450 by Bishop James Kennedy as both an educational and a religious institution, providing a rigorous academic training for young men who would primarily go on to serve in Scotland’s late medieval Catholic Church.

During the Middle Ages St Andrews was the religious capital of Catholic Scotland. However, in the sixteenth century many Scots turned against Catholicism, inspired by new ‘Reformed’ interpretations of Christianity coming out of continental Europe.

In 1559 the St Andrews burgh officials (inspired by the Protestant preacher John Knox) officially rejected Catholicism, and set about transforming local religious buildings, smashing altars and statues, burning church furnishings and books, and ending the religious function of many sites within the city.

The St Salvator’s buildings were altered by the Reformation, and by further rebuilding work in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Although, today only small sections of the medieval College buildings survive the glories of the medieval College can now be explored virtually.

And finally… Splashes of bronze add finishing touch to revamped city square

A sprinkling of precious metal embedded in paving stones is adding an artistic flourish to a newly refurbished city square.

The new public artwork – a meandering trail of thousands of bronze drips – has been unveiled in Edinburgh’s Bristo Square to mark the area’s redevelopment.

Commissioned by the University of Edinburgh, the 1600 bronze pegs create a series of small circles that stretches 68 metres from McEwan Hall’s original entrance across the Square.

The Next Big Thing… is a Series of Little Things by artist Susan Collis is part of the major redevelopment of the hall and the square.

The drips suggest that the trail has been created by someone walking across the square while carrying a leaky vessel.

Designed to be unobtrusive, the constant friction of people walking over the work will polish the bronze over time.

The Next Big Thing… is Collis’ first public art commission. She is known for her detailed sculptural works that combine everyday objects and materials with meticulously applied precious stones, metals or fine embroidery.

Her work is intended to make the public reconsider items that on first viewing might appear ordinary or accidental.

The Bristo Square installation is similar to her work in London’s Groucho Club, with mother of pearl drips embedded in the wooden floor.

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The Edinburgh commission is the result of a limited competition for a public artwork for the Square.

Nominated artists were invited to submit proposals for work that responded to the space, the creative and inspiring context of the University and the institution’s relationship with the city.

The selection committee featured representatives from Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh Art Festival.

The work was installed by Powderhall Bronze Foundry over three weeks.

Susan Collis said: “I was delighted to be chosen to create a public artwork for Bristo Square. It is a deliberately unobtrusive work – in contrast to other grand bronze figurative sculptures in Edinburgh – suggesting that even the small and subtle can make a major statement. I hope that everyone who passes by enjoys it for years to come.”

Neil Lebeter, University of Edinburgh Art Collections Curator, said: “This is a highly significant commission for the University that adds to the uniqueness of our campus. The work will encourage curiosity and engagement with our public spaces and help to further promote the University as a place for everyone.”

And finally… Mosque denies banning female construction workers from site

A Montreal mosque is demanding an apology after a local television report suggested that it had banned women from a nearby construction site.

On December 12, the French-language TVA Nouvelles published a report alleging that mosque administrators wanted females removed from a construction site near two mosques during Friday prayers.

A detailed investigation from the Quebec Construction Commission, however, found no such evidence of this claim.

Dominique Vien, Quebec’s labour minister confirmed that no such request was made.

Diane Lemieux, who heads the construction commission, told a press conference that “It’s very clear the mosque never made this kind of request.”

In a statement this week, the Ahl-ill Bait Mosque said it has had good relations with the contractor since the beginning of the project.

Moayed Altalibi says the mosque requested parking at lunchtime on Fridays because of prayer activities but never asked for anyone to be excluded from the site.

The statement adds that such reports contribute to the social breakdown between Quebecers of Muslim and non-Muslim faiths.

In Quebec City, Premier Philippe Couillard said a request for women to be barred from construction sites would be unacceptable but he made it clear it was not even sure whether it had even been made.