A project to be proud of

9 Sep , 2022  

Collen Construction is delighted to be a finalist for four categories in the 2022 Irish Construction Excellence Awards (ICE Awards), including the ‘Educational / Healthcare Under €50m’ category for the landmark Bray Primary Care Centre.

Building Excellence since 1810, Collen Construction has also been shortlisted in three other categories, ‘BIM Excellence’, ‘Industrial Under €15m’ and ‘Innovation in Construction’. The Irish Construction Excellence Awards are the original and premier recognition of performance excellence for the contracting sector in Ireland, and provide an opportunity for the industry to showcase and reward best practice across the full range of construction disciplines and project categories.

Collen is honoured to have won an RIAI Award at the recent RIAI Awards, which are the premier architectural awards in Ireland., The Bray Primary Care Centre project was a new departure for Collen Construction’s long-serving Senior Contracts Manager Derek McCaffrey, who has worked across multi disciplines, including education, residential, conservation, industrial and commercial projects. Hailing from Finglas and living in  Swords, Derek has been with Collen for 34 years and was previously nominated for an ICE Award for One South County in Leopardstown in 2018.

“The building has created a plaza effect in that part of Bray, and is a welcome and attractive addition to the town’s landscape. It was my first primary care centre to work on and I’m very happy with the end product,” he says.

The project brief assumed a standard primary care centre situated in the heart of Bray. The project is a 5,000m2 facility providing 16 GP clinics, dental clinics, specialist diagnostic clinics, drug treatment services, mental health services, physiotherapy and occupational therapy services. Included is a two-storey carpark catering for the needs of the primary care centre and the general public. Integrated into the facility is the Bray Old Folks resource centre and a catering kitchen for the Bray division of Meals on Wheels.

The €12.5m development also includes a public café and pharmacy which are both situated in the main atrium. Furthermore, it involved the demolition of an existing two-storey building, Bray Old Folks facility and a disused nursing home.

The project took 21 months to complete, from August 2018 to April 2020, with the final cost being on budget. The key project outcome was to provide upgraded amenities with new infrastructure to provide modernised care services and maximise the health service provision to Bray and North Wicklow areas.

The construction was a hybrid of traditional blockworks and precast slabs / screeds, RC frame construction and the inclusion of steelwork frame construction. A combination of curtain walling and punch-out windows as façade treatments encapsulated into a monocouche render system. With the building structure layout and two-storey carpark occupying a large portion of the western elevation, it created spatial challenges on site from the onset of the project.

An innovative approach was the commencement of the carpark element immediately once demolition of existing structures was complete. This was expedited ahead of the main structure as the early completion ensured Collen Construction made space available for site welfare accommodation / compound / material storage facilities to support the project team on the project on a spatially-challenged site.

For speed of construction, a steelwork frame was utilised, with metal deck permanent formwork system and concrete slabs. The main building sub-structures commenced immediately and both areas on site were developed concurrently. This led to special challenges which required informed decisions from all parties.

Another innovation was the use of a one-coat plaster finish to all internal blockwork walls. This was introduced as an innovation for programme and cost-efficiency. This system was new to the market and had been used just once before on a project in Ireland in Co. Cork when Collen implemented the system. The main contractor investigated this system with its supply chain provider versus the proposed sand / cement render and gypsum skim finish proposed by the design team.

Collen consulted with Gyproc Ireland and completed a full analysis on programme and labour savings. With design team approval, it was decided to implement the ONE COAT system. This system also provided excellent airtightness and helped achieve the stringent airtightness values dictated on the project.

A key challenge at the outset of the project was the requirement to provide temporary accommodation for all existing healthcare facilities that would be affected during the construction phase. There was a requirement to rehouse the Bray Old Folks / Meals on Wheels, the HSE Civil Registration Service for births, deaths and marriages as well as the drug treatment services clinic in new accommodation centres in three separate areas in Bray.

Derek and his team renovated an existing office / warehouse for Bray Old Folks / Meals on Wheels, refurbished an existing warehouse unit for the Civil Registration Service in a nearby industrial estate and simultaneously repurposed an existing area in Bray Civic Centre for addiction treatment services. Once this was completed, the team seamlessly managed the relocation of all services to their new temporary homes. Each move had to be executed without operational interruption to each service. Logistic planning in advance of relocation was spearheaded by the site project manager with all stakeholders involved.

At the completion of the project, Collen was involved in the logistics of relocating the departments mentioned above into their respective spaces within the new centre, and managing the logistics of setting up the new GP clinics. The contractor utilised its supply chain streams to plan and control the needs of each of the stakeholders, and effectively managed the efficient flow of materials and equipment to and from storage and temporary facilities. 

There wasn’t specifically a live environment scenario, but given the timing of the event, the project was impacted by the first Covid-19 lockdown, resulting in Collen having to challenge normal practices and implementing safe controls to effectively mitigate the restrictions in line with relevant government guidance at that juncture.

“It was all very, very new to us,” Derek recalls.

“This Covid challenge was very new to us and required an innovative approach to keep the project on track” Derek recalls.

“We were at a crucial stage of completions on the project and were completing external boundary treatment works which brought us into contact with the public. We employed the CIF Covid 19 SOP to good effect, with all engagements and interactions with the public and surrounding neighbours.

“As it was deemed an essential project, we worked right through the first lockdown to facilitate the handing over to the HSE on April 9 2020.”

Collen Construction is a family-owned business which was established over 200 years ago with a strong reputation for building quality and excellence. The company has successfully tendered and negotiated projects for a wide range of clients, including large multinational corporations, private companies, local authorities and state authorities. The Dublin-headquartered firm has earned a reputation for providing complex projects on time and within budget.

Collen’s dedicated teams work closely with design teams, providing a full turnkey service to the client as required. The lead architect on the Bray Primary Care Centre project was Henry J Lyons who Collen enjoys an excellent working relationship with. The company’s management team ensures smooth cooperation of all aspects of the project, including mechanical and electrical services.

As Senior Contracts Manager, Derek’s role was to bridge communication between the site and design teams. He was also focused on bringing innovation and problem-solving skills to what was a very challenging project. He would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire team for their cooperation, support, dedication and expertise in bringing this impressive project to a successful conclusion.

Collen Construction Ltd


East Wall Road,

Dublin 3,

D03 P7Y5.

Telephone: +353 (0)1 8745411

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.collen.com

This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, August 2022, Vol 8 No 8