Constructing Excellence South West Conference

I guess every industry has its acronyms. At the Bristol Marriott on Friday 21st May the delegates got a goody bag full as the various conference speakers imparted knowledge and wisdom about their selected topic for this year’s Constructing Excellence South West Conference. We were instructed to keep our phones ON, set to stun, and to tweet furiously throughout. OMG1 I thought, YOLO2

The day didn’t start well IMHO3. Incumbent Bristol Mayor George Ferguson was AWOL4 and unable to deliver a key note address as he was stuck on an international visit. Having heard George speak many times, I would have been interested to hear his POV5 since his election defeat as he’s been instrumental in advancing major projects like the Bristol Arena near BTM6.

When the conference started in earnest, we had an update on Hinkley C from EDF7’s David Sutton, which BTW8 included reference to a number of the training centres DKA9 have designed for Bridgwater College including CSIC10. Bouygues followed up with the challenges of delivering such large scale projects. Skills and legacy were key; big topics were discussed and big pledges made. However in a 15min slot there was no place for detail, so on some areas I was left SITD11.

Ian Knight from the HCA12 was an enthusiastic presenter, engaging the audience with his ambitious plans for steering central government strategy on new housing. On a terrifying graph, he demonstrated that the build challenge is similar to the post-war generation having to rebuild cities decimated by bombs. As an architectural student of the 1990s, this sent some shivers as I recalled the number of 1950s and 60s building torn down in the period since I entered the profession. RBTL13, I think Ian was advocating quantity and quality to tackle this national crisis.

Deborah Rowland from the MOJ14 was equally enthusiastic about her topic and maximised her word per minute ratio with a stream of acronyms that raced towards us like a stream of neutrinos. Deborah is clearly passionate about GSL15 in FM16 with particular focus on CAFM17 and BIM18. She displayed an impressive map of interrelated documents (some legislation, some guidance) to cover various aspects of EiRs19, PAS 1192-220, AIM21, COBie22 and POE23. An interesting challenge was how to implement BIM18 on large campus sites without existing data to call upon FM16, it seems, is no long a case of RTM24. In row 7, this met with some big LOLs25.

So was it a coincidence when Matt Messias took to the stage in the afternoon, he delivered a clear and inspirational view on education at the Atrium School, without a hint of an acronym, industry-speak or cliché? From age 13, students are taught to prepare for future roles in the construction industry, with a curriculum structured around collaborative working without traditional subject division. Students may fulfil 14 or 15 work experience programmes through links with local professional partnerships. The school building itself was interesting and reflected the flexible, no nonsense approach to delivering a different kind of education that prioritised skills and leadership over ticks in boxes.

As the conference wound down in preparation for the subsequent awards evening, we said our goodbyes, exchanged our last few business cards, swiped a final pack of complementary mints and wandered blinking into the daylight.

Although, actually we didn’t leave at all – we headed upstairs to the bar. It seems only right to finish with a G&T26.

1 Oh my god

2 You only live once

3 In my humble opinion

4 Absent without leave

5 Point of view

6 Bristol Temple Meads

7 Électricité de France

8 By the way

9 DKA was formerly David Kent Architects, FYI.

10 Construction Skills & Innovation Centre.

11 Still in the dark

12 Homes and Communities Agency

13 Reading between the lines

14 Ministry of Justice (a bit like the Ministry of Magic)

15 Government Soft Landings

16 Facilities Management

178 Computer Aided Facilities Management

18 Building Information Modelling see DKA | BIM

19 Employers Information Requirements

20 PAS 1192-2 specifies requirements for achieving building information modelling (BIM) Level 2

21 Asset Information Model

22 Construction to Operations Building Information Exchange

23 Post occupation evaluation

24 Read the manual

25 Laugh out loud

26 Seriously?

DKA constructing excellence


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