And finally…

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

And finally… Construction firm offers honest living to thieves caught stealing from it

A construction company has offered jobs to the same thieves who stole from its store by highlighting some “good” qualities in the robbers from waking up early to being a team player.

The owners of Smith Crane & Construction in New Zealand put up a post on Facebook to find the offenders — but added a twist by offering them a job too.

Taking the positives out of the robbers’ endeavours, the firm listed a few things they were looking for their probable employee.

“We thought you might like to come and work for us? Maybe make an honest living instead of thieving off us?” offered the company.

The post added: “You seem to have some (but not all) attributes we are looking for, i.e.

1) You are obviously good at early starts and getting out of bed on time (or staying up late)

2) You seem to know your power tools pretty well

3) You know your way around our yard

4) You may have good reliable transport to get to work on time (a brand new 2017 silver Hilux Ute was taken from our site a month earlier – was that you?)

5) You relate well to others as I see you have a mate/colleague/partner with you. Please ask him to apply as well. We notice he still has his balaclava on so he must have slightly more intelligence than you.

The company also offered some cash prize for any information.

“UP TO $1000 REWARD for information leading to the recovery and conviction of these two thieves,” it also wrote on Facebook.

Ensuring that the post is not entirely a tongue-in-cheek attempt to catch the offenders, owner Tim Smith told Newshub: “We can give them some work if they want…we have ex-prisoners working for us.”

And finally… Waterfalls, forests and kayaks among proposals to transform New York’s Park Avenue

Architects and designers have imagined ways to transform the central reservation along New York’s Park Avenue for an ideas competition, including an underground rock-climbing wall, a huge cascading waterfall and a route for kayaking commuters, Dezeen has reported.

An aquarium, elevated walkways and a putting green are also among the schemes for Park Avenue’s central reservation that architects, designers, urban planners, artists and students have submitted to the Beyond the Centerline ideas contest.

Organised by New York real-estate company Fisher Brothers, the competition tasked entrants to come up with innovative ways to transform the congested boulevard into a hive of activity.

From the 150 entrants, 17 were shortlisted for providing the most ambitious proposals – including three glass cubes to exhibit art work, an elevated basketball court and a yoga studio topped with an undulating grass roof.

Local Architects envisions a scheme that would create a narrow water passage accessed by curved steps, for New York residents to use for commuting by kayak, and an ice rink for skating or playing hockey.

A waterfall flows down the massive mountain-shaped structure that New York-based ATYPE Architecture proposes to slot along the avenue’s central reservation, joining a number of schemes submitted by landscape designers that would bring more of the natural environment into the metropolis.

Brooklyn-based Harrison Green has rendered a forest offering a habitat for wildlife, while Terrain Work imagines building a plant-filled carnival using an image that mimics the cover of the New Yorker magazine.

Two schemes also propose building underground: Gaffney-Nguyen sees the street as a portal to a subterranean level, featuring shops and cafes; Studio Ames suggests burrowing further to create multiple levels for food markets, theatres, sports studio and a bouldering wall.

A 30-foot-tall (nine-metre) field of stalks and a green wall also feature on the shortlist. While only ideas, Fisher Brothers hopes they could incite others to think about new ways to use the street.

All 17 projects will be exhibited in the public arcade of Park Avenue Plaza from 5 March to 9 March 2018. A jury will pick two winners to receive the $25,000 (£18,165) prize. A second $5,000 (£3,600) prize will be awarded to the winner of the popular public vote.

And finally… Disneyland Paris plans €2bn expansion

Disney has announced plans to invest €2 billion (£1.8bn) to expand Disneyland Paris with a lake and new areas devoted to hit films such as Frozen and Star Wars.

The multi-year project will transform Walt Disney Studios Park and see the addition of three new areas, along with other new attractions.

Disney said the development would be rolled out over several years, starting in 2021.

In addition to the three new areas, the plan includes a new lake, which will be the focal point for entertainment and will also connect each of the new park areas.

Robert Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Company, said: “We’re very excited about the future of Disneyland Paris and continue to invest in its long-term success.

“The resort is already the leading tourist destination in Europe, and the transformative expansion we announced today will add even more of our beloved characters and unparalleled storytelling to create new lands, attractions and entertainment that further elevate the guest experience and drive new opportunities for tourism in this dynamic region.”

And finally… Construction and demolition paintings to feature heavily in contemporary art exhibition

Arthur Lockwood RBA ‘JCB at rest’

Images of construction, demolition, cranes, diggers and even a gravel pit are set to be included in the 301st exhibition to be held by the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA).

The RBA is dedicated to promoting the highest standards of skill, concept and draughtsmanship in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing.

Arthur Lockwood RBA specialises in construction imagery and said: “I chose to record the changes taking place in Birmingham and the Black Country: demolition of Nineteenth Century buildings and the construction of new landmarks such as Bull Ring shopping centre. I also wanted to document the metal working factories and foundries before they disappeared.”

Rebecca Cains’ work captures the less fashionable areas of towns and cities where she grew up and has revisited with renewed vision. Much of her work is based at a local scrap yard where she is visually interested in the haphazard shapes, textures and colours of decayed vehicles stacked together like forms of sculpture. Her paintings create a haunting poetry about the wrecked detritus of our contemporary world, heightened with the urban environment juxtaposed against a rural landscape.

The exhibition is being held from March 21-31 at the Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1.

Scottish Construction Now readers are being offered free entry for two to the exhibition upon mention of our publication at the Gallery Desk (normal price £8).

And finally… Apple employees keep walking into new HQ’s transparent glass doors

Calls to emergency services in San Francisco have been made on at least three occasions because employees at Apple keep walking into glass windows and doors at the company’s $5 billion ‘spaceship’ campus.

Apple Park, Apple’s new four-storey corporate campus designed by Norman Foster, has 3,000 panes and doors where the glass has been specially treated to achieve an exact level of transparency and whiteness.

Despite warnings from a building inspector that people would not be able to tell where the door ends and the wall begins, at least three Apple employees walked or ran into the ultra-transparent glass hard enough to require emergency medical treatment during the first month of occupation, according to recordings of 911 calls obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Employees have reportedly been dealing with the problem since Apple Park first opened in a limited capacity last year. According to Bloomberg, distracted workers on their iPhones have been walking into glass walls around office spaces, resorting to sticking yellow sticky notes on the glass doors to help. The notes were reportedly removed, however, because they detracted from the building’s design.

Instead, Apple has reportedly had to resort to putting rectangular stickers on some of the glass to try and avoid further injuries, having started with the doors. Apple uses similar stickers in some of its glass-doored stores.

In January, Apple’s vice president of real estate and development, Dan Whisenhunt, reportedly acknowledged the problem to the Rotary Club of Cupertino. He said: “We’ve had people bump into the glass. That’s a problem we are working on right now.”

And finally… Archaeologists unearth amazing finds on Aberdeen bypass

Julie Lochrie Headland Archaeology finds specialist and Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown

Artefacts and structures found during archaeological excavations on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie to Tipperty (AWPR/B-T) project are shedding light on land use and settlement in the north east over the past 15,000 years, including Mesolithic pits, Roman bread ovens, prehistoric roundhouses and a cremation complex.

Since the archaeological excavations were completed, specialists have been analysing the artefacts and samples recovered from the various sites and will be detailing the results in a new limited edition book due to be published later this year.

Keith Brown, cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work, said: “When complete, the AWPR will help to reduce congestion, cut journey times, improve safety and lower pollution in Aberdeen City Centre, as well as enable local authorities to develop public transport solutions. However, the archaeology has also proven to be yet another huge benefit coming from this project, helping to shine a light on Scotland’s ancient past.

“The discoveries along the AWPR route, which would have remained undiscovered had the new bypass not been built, are truly remarkable and underline the importance of the value we place on meeting our environmental obligations as we plan and construct this new infrastructure.”

Bruce Mann, archaeologist for Aberdeenshire Council and Aberdeen City Council, said: “There has been a range of fascinating discoveries from the archaeological works carried out on site. Some raise more questions than they answer about what we thought we knew about the north east. For instance, a very unexpected discovery was the presence of Roman activity at Milltimber, likely dating from around 83/84 AD. Ninety bread ovens were uncovered, which were probably constructed by the Roman army at a time of invasion led by the Roman General Agricola. However, no evidence of an associated camp was found, which is unusual for these types of features. We can only speculate as to why the ovens were at this specific location, and what it says about what was happening in the area at the time.”

“Going back to the very earliest finds, there was also evidence of stone tool production dating between about 13,000 and 10,000 BC at Milltimber, a near unprecedented body of evidence which pushes back our understanding of human activity in north east Scotland by several thousand years. The same site revealed spreads of flints along with large pits dating between 10,000 BC to 4,100 BC that could have been used by hunter-gatherers to trap deer, elks or aurochs (an ancestor of modern bison). What is particularly exciting is that these finds have been made in an area where our knowledge is rapidly expanding through research projects such as Mesolithic Deeside.”

The discoveries made during the works were not confined to the environs of the River Dee. A structure dating between 7,000 BC to 6,700 BC was also found at Standingstones, in the hills to the west of Dyce. This tent-like shelter was likely only used for a few nights by a small group of people while they collected nuts, berries and tubers or hunted animals in the immediate area.

Bruce added: “Bronze Age activity was identified from Nether Beanshill in the form of a roundhouse and contemporary cremation complex dating from around 1,600 to 1,250 BC.BC. The burial comprised of an urn in which the cremated remains of an individual in their 20s had been placed. This urn was placed in a pit which was then marked by a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of timber posts. Two other similar burials were covered by miniature mounds and surrounded by small ditches.”

Although artefacts of a wide range of dates, materials and types were discovered across the scheme, a particularly well-preserved Beaker period pot found in a post-hole at Milltimber was a highlight. The pot was completely intact when it was found and must have been placed in the ground with a great deal of care. It dates to between 2,400 BC to around 2,200/2,000 BC.

Bruce added: “These archaeological finds provide real insight into the history and culture of the north east. They are impressive in both in time depth and range of activities represented. They push back known human activity in the region by at least 2,000 years, add new detail to how our ancestors lived and died, and reveal a new dimension to Rome’s invasions of Scotland.”

Other excavations include a small hub of Iron Age activity at Goval dating from around the first and second centuries AD where a roundhouse of around 10 metres in diameter was found which would have provided space to live comfortably. The roundhouse was built of vertical wooden posts supporting a large conical thatched roof and there would have been a central hearth. An area of stone paving – or work surface – was also found outside the entrance of the building.

A furnace found nearby showed evidence of iron smelting, the process of extracting iron from ore. The ore which was most likely extracted from nearby peat bogs, would have been heated in the furnace causing the iron to separate and pool in the bottom of the furnace.

And finally… 96-year-old former plumber turns Godfather with latest novel

Bill Glen

A 96-year-old retired plumber in Glasgow is set to publish his second novel – just over a month since his first became a national media sensation.

William Glen’s latest novel follows the lives of four retirement home residents who, after becoming involved with a dangerous local gangster, end up committing two murders.

Those intrigued by his first gripping plot line that centred on a fight between South American drug barons, certainly won’t be disappointed with his new book.

Mr Glen, a tenant at Bield’s Carntyne Gardens, said: “It all takes place after one of the residents wins the lottery – they’re approached by a mafia man who demands they pay him £1 million for protection.

“They don’t want to give up their fortune but they can’t see a way out. So, they electrocute him – they didn’t want to make a mess in their new mansion, you see.”

But after thinking the coast is clear, the four residents quickly find themselves in deep water, as they learn the gangster had a body guard.

Having never been involved in such grave situations before, the characters use what they’ve seen in films as a murder ‘how-to’ guide.

Mr Glen said: “Most stories focus on the run up to the murder, and the mysteries around whodunit, but I’m more interested in how and when characters decide to kill someone and how they cover it up.”

Once the book is finished, Mr Glen plans to send the aptly named ‘An Age for Murder’ to publishers up and down the country.

Before putting pen to paper for his second action-packed fiction tale, the retired plumber completed a more serious autobiographical work about events that took place while he was wounded in Normandy during the war.

He added: “Sales of my first book have been coming along quite the thing since all the media attention. I’ve been handing out copies left, right and centre and have had great feedback from friends and family and even some good reviews on Amazon.

“People always want to know the secrets of what inspires my writing, but the truth is I’m just mad.”

Carol Harvey, deputy manager at Bield’s Carntyne Gardens, said: “Mr Glen’s practically a celebrity here. Everyone’s been so inspired by his passion for writing.

“Especially considering writing isn’t something he’s always done – it’s a talent that he discovered in retirement.

“We have a large glass cabinet in the front foyer of Carntyne Gardens with Mr Glen’s work and copies of the media coverage – visitors are always intrigued and now shake his hand on arrival.

“His whole attitude to trying something new, and with such great confidence, really embodies Bield’s Free to Be ethos.

“Mr Glen proves that age should be no obstacle when it comes to taking up a new hobby. His free spirit is encouraging us all at Carntyne Gardens to seize the day and not be afraid to try something new.”

And finally… Too cold to lay bricks

A number of construction sites across the UK have ground to a halt due to heavy snow, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

As the ‘Beast from the East’ brings snow and storms to the UK, the trade body warned that the freezing temperatures mean it’s too cold to lay bricks.

Sarah McMonagle, director of external affairs at the FMB, said: “Heavy snow showers have led to many construction sites across the UK grinding to a halt. Some construction bosses have told their staff to take the rest of the week off and not return to work until Monday. But it’s not just the snow that’s playing havoc with construction projects – some firms are reporting that the freezing temperatures mean it’s too cold to lay bricks.

“The overall impact of bad weather on construction growth remains to be seen but this situation is concerning given that the FMB’s latest research shows that growth among construction SMEs slowed in the final three months of 2017. We hope that the cold weather we have seen this week is just a blip and that all workers will be able to get back on site in coming days.”

And finally…wasting the warranty

UK consumers are throwing an estimated £49.5 million down the drain each year by replacing household appliances and electrical goods without even checking their warranties, new research has shown.

According to the new study, 32 per cent of Scots diligently keep their proof of purchase for close to two years, but with almost no benefit, as 26 per cent flash the cash to replace goods without even checking their warranties. In addition, a third have never made a warranty claim on a faulty or broken item.

The saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ might be accurate for the younger generation, with millennials spending over double the amount (£228) replacing household appliances than those aged over 55 (£108).

The research also reveals that an item would have to be under four months old for the younger generation to even consider returning it to the store if it was faulty or had stopped working. However, it may come as no surprise that those aged over 55 would consider taking an item back to the store up to 11 months after the initial purchase. Interestingly, the standard warranty period in the UK is two and a half years.

 Almost half of women are guilty of not checking the status of a warranty when an appliance stops working, whilst men are quick to splurge, spending over double the amount (£239) of women (£152) when replacing items annually.

It seems Scots like to take care of their laundry, with washing machines topping the list of items they care most about when it comes to their warranty (44%). Despite 30 per cent of the Brits owning a coffee machine, they are listed among the goods that consumers are less inclined to retain their proof of purchase.

Top items Scots bother to learn the warranty status of:

  1. Washing machines – 44 per cent
  2. TVs – 40 per cent
  3. Mobile phones – 39 per cent
  4. Vacum cleaners – 31 per cent
  5. Microwave – 27 per cent

Chris Reilly, managing director of by MyVoucherCodes, which carried out the study, said: “Checking your warranty can seem tedious, but it’s so important if you want to avoid spending money on unnecessary replacements or repairs.

“We recommend retaining your proof of purchase for a minimum of two years in a safe place, so you can easily review if required. However, if you do get caught out, be sure to search online to get the best deal.”

And finally…motherships, robots and 40-rotor turbines – how offshore wind could look by 2050

An explosion of innovation in the UK will see an army of autonomous robots service giant wind turbines with tens of rotors, while parachute-shaped kites will transform how we think about wind turbines.

And offshore wind could become the backbone of the country’s energy mix within 12 years, with pioneering designs and storage technology potentially seeing a third of the UK’s electricity demand met by offshore wind.

These predictions are based on work currently underway at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.

Based on the Catapult’s current research and design taking place in the UK, the Catapult concept for the future shows how the wind farms of 2030, 2040 and 2050 will differ from today – underlining the technology behind them.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research and Innovation Director at ORE Catapult, said: “Our projection is based on research taking place in the UK right now – and importantly gaining traction across the world as exciting new approaches to generating clean, abundant energy from offshore wind start to emerge.

“This is a very exciting time for the offshore wind industry. In line with the UK Government’s Industrial and Clean Growth Strategies, the industry is currently working with Government to agree a transformational Sector Deal to enable additional capacity to deliver affordable electricity, grow innovative UK businesses and create UK jobs.

“Technical capability has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and if we look back 12 years to 2006, very few people would have foreseen how far we’ve come with turbine technology and storage, for example.

“Whatever the future holds, the work taking place right here in the UK will have a pivotal impact not just on how we generate energy, but on how we view offshore renewables.”

Trends we’re likely to see growing over the next two to three decades include robots and drones, with automated motherships carrying armies of droids to hazardous offshore locations, where they will carry out maintenance and basic repairs cheaper than ever before.

Turbines will become bigger, but challenges faced by scale and weight will mean more innovative designs will come to the fore, including multi-rotor designs and vertical axis turbines.

Issues faced by intermittency will also be a thing of the past, with energy storage technology maturing within 12 years to become a key part of the UK’s energy mix – potentially responsible for meeting a third of the UK’s electricity demand.

Stephen added: “While we will see an increase in automation and robotics, this new wave of offshore technology will in fact create jobs, with engineers and programmers required to create, maintain and operate these devices. Offshore crew transfers will still be a vital part of operations, as more complex tasks are unlikely to ever be fully possible using robotic technology.

“What we cannot predict is the disruptive innovations that could drastically alter the course of offshore wind development, but our world-leading representative testing and demonstration facilities mean these innovators have no better place in the world to bring forward these innovations than in the UK.”

Using some of the most innovative technologies under development as examples, how will the wind farm of the future develop?

2020-2030

ORE Catapult predicts that by 2030, floating wind farms will become the norm, with significantly larger turbines generating over 15MW of energy, compared to the 7MW drivetrains today. Blades themselves will be larger, but novel materials will reduce the cost of the repairs and maintenance. ACT Blade, in Edinburgh, is leading in this field, using techniques borrowed from creating ultra-efficient sails from racing yachts to engineer textile blades.

Drones and AI-driven monitoring systems will be commonplace, with Glasgow-based Wideblue’s internal blade inspection system, autonomous drones from Perceptual Robotics, Bristol, and Darlington’s Modus Seabed Intervention’s Automated Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and docking station meaning basic sub-sea repairs and maintenance can be carried out without human intervention. Rovco’s AI-driven 3D vision-based underwater survey solution is another example, with the Bristol company saying their tech could potentially save hundreds of millions on offshore inspections every year.

Drones won’t be the only robots swarming over offshore turbines. Soon to be tested on real turbines at ORE Catapult’s testing facilities in Blyth, Bladebug is both the name of this London micro-SME and its innovative blade crawler. This robotic crawler could significantly reduce the cost and risk of blade maintenance activities – and can operate even when the wind is too strong for flying drones.

Storage solutions being developed in the UK, such as Statoil’s BatWind technology will end intermittency issues inherent with existing wind power technology and ensure every ounce of renewable energy harnessed from the wind is used.

2030-2040

By 2040, turbines will be accompanied with a new type of technology. There will be extensive roll out of a floating kite power generator, such as that being developed by KPS (Kite Power Systems Ltd) in Glasgow, which uses a wing as a kite to harness power in a wider swept area than turbines can. Because the kites are lightweight, the systems use less material than conventional wind technology so produce energy at a lower cost.

“KPS is currently developing a 500kW product that will be on the market in the early 2020s,” says Simon Heyes, KPS CEO.  “Our vision has always been that this technology will have a significant impact on global deepwater wind at utility scale”.

Turbines will take on a new look, with designs moving from the single-rotor designs we see today to arrays of multiple rotors on a single structure, drastically reducing installation and maintenance costs – as well as generating up to 20MW using small 500kW turbines.

And those turbines will even benefit from even cheaper generators. Expensive rare-earth magnets will be replaced by cheap, abundantly available ferrite magnets thanks to an innovative generator developed by Essex’s GreenSpur Renewables.

Robotic inspections, meanwhile, will become entirely autonomous, with advanced Artificial Intelligence making basic maintenance and repair operations cheaper than ever and Rovco expect to be offering fully autonomous unmanned survey solutions.

 

2040-2050

Wind turbines will continue to grow in size, with 200m blades being the norm in single-rotor designs. Because of their size, these blades will use an entirely new construction method, with flexible blade structures used to reduce the likelihood of breakage. Secondary rotors could start to be used on the tip of blades – where because of their high speed they will generate even more power from every gust.

Vertical axis turbines, still in their infancy, will start to address the challenges current designs pose in weight, with larger traditional blades becoming less feasible on a tower structure. These vertical axis blades will have numerous other benefits, such as being able to generate power no matter which direction the wind is blowing in.

This technology will benefit from the MagLev technology currently used for metro trains in Japan. Used in tandem with vertical axis turbines, this will reduce the friction between the turbine and the blade to zero, allowing greater yield by allowing generation with even less wind.

The rise of the robots will continue with the introduction of the Mothership. These are fully autonomous boats that can transfer crew to turbines as well as more advanced robots and drones, acting both as a charging station and data-hub. These will allow for even more complex tasks and repairs to be carried out than ever before.