CIC Blog: construction

| Filed in Blog, Events
Chicks with Bricks: a celebration of women in the built environment

Alice Moxley

Chicks with Bricks

On the 6th October, Chicks with Bricks will bring a collection of women together from the construction industry to network, debate and celebrate at the ICA Gallery.

Tickets are priced at £32.50 (+VAT) and include the following:

• chicks with bricks membership

• an exclusive networking opportunity bringing together 120 young women and senior female leaders: the brightest and best of the construction industry. 

• entry into the exclusive Nash rooms at the ICA. 

• canapés and drinks. 

• guest speakers. 

So what is the event about?

The event is aimed at women of all ages and professions within the construction industry. There are a number of bodies representing women in construction; our aim is to bring them and their members together. It is because of our aim to create a more inclusive and cohesive network that we have support from National Association of Women in Construction, RIBA, RICS, the Construction Industry Council, and Women in Architecture to just name a few. Representatives from all of these bodies will be present at the event. 

With only 120 places, there will be plenty of opportunity for you to meet like-minded individuals. The intimate setting will allow you to network easily and comfortably. 

Furthermore, only 11% of the industry is made up of women, so this event aims to raise awareness of the few women who are in construction. Join us in our shared belief that there should be greater equality in this sector.

Attendees and Guest Speakers

Since 2005, Chicks has held numerous events bringing members together to network and communicate - architects, developers, lawyers, tradeswomen, engineers, academics, policymakers, designers, manufacturers, contractors, surveyors, project managers and media. Twice-yearly events bring 200 to 400 women together for drinks and debate led by well-known industry figures at exclusive venues. 

This year we are pleased to welcome Annie Hampson (Chief Planning Officer for The City of London), Claire Bennie (Development Director at Peabody), Lucy Heller (CEO of Ark) and a Young Ambassador from The Prince’s Trust.  In previous years, guest speakers have included Rt. Hon Patricia Hewitt MP, Zoe Blackler (Building Design Magazine), Sara Fox (Swiss RE and the client for the Gherkin), and Sarah Ebanja (lead of the £700 million Arsenal Development). 

Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss prominent issues and ask questions to other professionals. Speakers will be invited to open up the floor for a question and answer session after their talk. 

Supporting the future generation

Thanks to our sponsors, Carillion, we have been able to reduce ticket prices and offer some free tickets to young professionals and students aged between18-25 to encourage even greater inclusion. Furthermore, our event will fundraise for The Prince’s Trust, to help young disadvantaged women to get into the sector through The Trust’s ‘Get into Construction’ Programme.

We operate as a non-profit network with an aim to cover the basic costs of catering and venue through ticket sales. 


The ICA Gallery, home to London Fashion week, is the ideal location for Chicks. Situated on The Mall, minutes away from Charing Cross tube station, it is easily accessible and centrally located. The Nash and Brandon rooms are a spectacular example of Georgian architecture, designed by John Nash himself with views over St James’s Park towards the Houses of Parliament. 

Contributor: Alice works for Holly Porter (founder of Chicks with Bricks) at Holly’s Architectural Practice in Wapping – Surface to Air Architects. Alice has been working on the organisation of Chicks with Bricks for the past 9 months as well as doing a bit of architecture on the side.

If you have any queries, please contact Alice Moxley on 07752138242 or visit the website 

Twitter handle: @withbricks

Tickets can be purchased via eventbrite


Tags: Chick with bricks, networking, architecure, construction, ICA Gallery
| Filed in Blog
Le Grand Tour de Yorkshire


Stefanie Stead

CIC Yorkshire & Humber Chair 

Architect, Pearce Bottomley Architects

Sustainable communities are places where people want to live and work because they meet diverse needs, are sensitive to the environment, safe and inclusive. The construction industry plays a huge part in building these communities, providing homes, infrastructure, jobs and social institutions. Whether the Bronze Age stone circles or modern stadia, construction is intrinsic to the creation of community and there is no better place to explore this than Yorkshire, where evidence dates back to the prehistoric.   

As the location of the Grand Depart, Yorkshire is building a new type of community for the region, one that combines sport, tourism and media. By following the cycling route map – a new sort of neighbourhood plan – we can explore the type of communities Yorkshire had – and has – to offer from Roman roads to modern arenas and ask what we can learn from the past to build the communities of the future.

The new Leeds Arena is the face of the modern construction industry and a reflection of the need of communities to gather for a shared interest, be it gladiatorial combat or a Bruce Springsteen concert.  As the first purpose-built arena with a fan-shaped design and “the best acoustic experience of any large arena venue in the country”, it created technical challenges for the construction team.  But this is not the only ‘new’ arena in the area.  2011 saw the discovery of a significant Roman Amphitheatre in Aldbrough, which also demonstrates cutting edge construction skills.

Central to the development of communities in the region was the building of monasteries in Yorkshire.  Architecturally, the buildings pushed boundaries; economically and politically, these institutions were the power houses of the country.  Fountains Abbey in Ripon was the largest and richest of the Northern abbeys, with an influence that extended to the rest of the country and as far as Norway.  It was occasionally at the forefront of international affairs, whilst closer to home, thousands of people relied on the abbey for work, food, trade and shelter, as well as spirituality.  Today it is a World Heritage site and the impact on tourism is clear but are there lessons here in constructing sustainable communities?

The Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII to form the estates of the gentry had a profound and permanent effect on the Yorkshire landscape. Their stewardship of the land continues to define the character of much of rural Yorkshire and rural business. Bolton Abbey, is a prime example of how once redundant traditional buildings that are no longer suitable for mainstream farming can be given a new lease of life within the community.

Religion was also key to the development of the Rowntree Company established by Joseph Rowntree in 1862. By the time it was acquired by Nestlé in 1988 it was the fourth largest confectionery manufacturer in the world. The company was founded on Quaker principles and Rowntree was deeply interested in improving the quality of life of his employees.  In creating the model village of New Earswick, in York, Rowntree stated that he did “not want to establish communities bearing the stamp of charity but rather of rightly ordered and self governing communities".  The Rowntree Trust continues to build today along the same principles, demonstrating that the need for well-designed communities is as relevant today as it was then.

But what about Yorkshire’s urban communities that have experienced the highs of the Industrial Revolution and the lows of the modern economy?   Hebden Bridge flourished during the Industrial revolution, being a central part of the wool industry that came to define much of the West Riding.  By the late 20th century however, the small mill town was looking like a northern backwater.  The fact that the railway survived the 1960s axe, reinforced the relationship the town has with the larger metropolises of Manchester and Leeds, allowing it to become a vibrant suburb with a distinct sense of independence.  The reinvention of Hebden Bridge fits nicely into the aims of the ‘Northern Way’ initiative before the demise of the LDAs. How can other parts of the UK replicate Hebden Bridge's success?  And should the ‘Northern Way’ be rebuilt?

Likewise, Sheffield is a lesson on how a city can be reborn.   Having established itself as the ‘City of Steel’ in the 18th and 19th centuries, the 1980s saw its dramatic fall as an industrial powerhouse, with the loss of over 50,000 jobs.  Yet Sheffield is now leading the way in its regeneration by engaging with the city in innovative and creative ways, facilitating diverse employment and taking advantage of two top class universities.  This thinking, which combined exemplary architecture and landscape design that was thoroughly endorsed by the Council, has resulted in Sheffield’s GVA increasing by 60% since 1997, standing at £9.2 billion in 2007, with steady growth averaging around 5% annually. So are there ways we can learn from Sheffield?

‘Le Grand Tour de Yorkshire’ is the subject of the CIC Yorkshire and Humber Conference which takes place at the National Railway Museum in York on 25 June 2014.

Contributor: Stefanie chairs CIC's Yorkshire and Humber regional committee and is an Architect at Pearce Bottomley Architects in Leeds.

Tags: infrastructure, Yorkshire, sustainable communities, construction, architecture, diverse,
| Filed in Blog, BIM, BIM Research
BIM and the Civil Engineering Undergraduate

Joe Wesley 

4th year undergraduate at the University of Warwick


2016. BIM. Construction. These three words are of great significance to Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry professionals, and have been the topic of much development, and conversely debate, since the release of the Government Construction Strategy in 2011. However, to many UK civil engineering undergraduates, BIM itself means very little, whilst to the few who have heard of it, its meaning and purpose is somewhat confused.  

Before I began my research into this topic for my project, I, along with many others, thought the significance of BIM is due to how advanced the 3D modelling technology is.  In fact, it is far more to do with the way it effectively manages information. This common misconception amongst students (and even their tutors!) is caused by one fundamental problem: lack of education.

My research involved investigating how or indeed if BIM is taught in the 24 Russell Group universities. The results were as follows:


The 9 UK universities who registered a level of BIM activity were primarily involved in research and postgraduate study. There was very little to suggest undergraduates anywhere were studying or even being made aware of BIM, especially in civil engineering courses, until a brief mention in the undergraduate prospectus at Leeds. This is a frightening thought given the fast approaching 2016 deadline. How are these graduates meant to be prepared?

Findings from the 2013 National BIM Survey may help to highlight the issue further:

  • 71% of respondents agreed that BIM represents the ‘future of project information’
  • 74% agreed that the industry is ‘not clear enough on what BIM is yet’.

So we agree that BIM is important, but its definition is uncertain. In addition to this, if industry is not clear enough on what BIM is, then how it is to be taught effectively?

To some extent the problem is alleviated as training for professionals is readily available. However, will somebody with 25 years of experience be willing to completely change their ways to incorporate BIM? Grass roots education is the key to solving the issue as BIM is believed to be a new way of thinking. Despite this, there is very little specification from industry to define the ‘BIM-Enabled’ graduate.

So, what can we do about it?

Well, the first step is to decide what to teach. I realised it is not feasible to teach BIM in its entirety due to the cost of software and the enormity of the subject. Fundamentally students must be able to a) work and engage in collaborative group design work, b) have simple design conceptual skills and c) have a general awareness of BIM, this awareness being based upon three main topics, People, Process and Technology.


  • Cover what BIM is and its role in the AEC industry.
  • Understand why BIM is needed.
  • Appreciate the business case for BIM and the government’s stance on it.
  • Understand the basics of how BIM will be implemented, covering the Push-Pull strategy and the concept of data drops.


  • Know the format of and problems with the traditional design, procurement and construction process, the tools and techniques it uses and the improvements BIM introduces.
  • Be aware of lifecycle management- design conception to demolition.
  • Work to the ‘right first time’ ethos in design work.
  • Appreciate the importance of collaboration.


  • Understand how parametric objects and clash detection define BIM and how data sets and reports can be extracted from the original 3D model.
  • Understand the role that cloud technology and standards such as COBie play.

The question now, is how do we introduce this core content and these skills into the already overcrowded civil engineering degree structure?

It may be that it’s introduced as a course elective, such as ‘Civil Engineering with BIM’, or as a single optional module available to students, therefore reducing the time constraint. However, in my opinion, rather than teaching it as a separate subject, BIM has the potential to be, or should be, fully integrated into the curricula. It is plausible that the Joint Board of Moderators could include it within its three main threads of Civil Engineering accreditation, which are Design, Sustainability and Healthy and Safety and Risk Management. BIM in fact combines with all of these.

There are still many barriers to introduction still to overcome, such as delivery and assessment. Given that it’s still new to industry, who will teach it? Furthermore, how will teaching content be moderated for consistency across the board?

Despite this, BIM urgently needs to be introduced into civil engineering curricula to ensure the next generation of graduates understand exactly what is going on and why. After all, they will soon be required to have a level of knowledge and understanding that allows them to fit into industry with minimal time and cost expenditure. As it stands, this is not going to happen. It’s clear that higher education needs to catch up with industry, quickly.

Contributor: Joe Wesley is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of Warwick, studying for an MEng Masters in Civil Engineering. Earlier this year he completed his third year individual project, ‘BIM and the Civil Engineering Undergraduate’, which involved developing a proposal for the introduction of BIM at the University of Warwick.

You can find Joe on LinkedIn or email via:


Tags: BIM, Construction, Civil Engineering, Architecture, Engineering and Construction, AEC
| Filed in Blog, Green Deal
The Grey Hairs of the Green Deal

Mark Wilson MCIAT
Building Design Expert

This government flagship looked a winner on the drawing board, showed great promise during construction. But it stalled in the slipway because someone had forgotten to secure its finance arrangements, and subsequently launched into a sleepy backwater with barely a ripple.

Government ministers trumpeted that this was always the plan, and that the ‘energy marketers’ would man the tugs to guide this flagship out to sea. Six months on and one cannot help but wonder that for the price of a short length of rope, a bottle of champagne and some celebrity trumpeting; would we now be cruising at top speed in open water?

Maybe not, but the fact that it was never an appetiser on the menu draws questions of judgment. I did a lot of research in the run up to the first false dawn, and indeed spoke to many people, and came to the consistent conclusion that if the government struggled to ‘give away’ insulation under the banners of CERT and CESP, what made them think we were now going to happily pay for it?

We are several months down the Green estuary, but the outlook remains a very dark grey. Statistics released at the start of July gave us 14 million homes, 19,000 green deal assessments made, and 4, yes Four, GD implementations. Whilst ministers hedged for a while; common sense began to prevail, with an announcement that they would look at better ways to incentivise the offering, and guess what – we are still waiting.

At least they got what the problem was. Take a step backwards and ask “what’s in it for me?” – the home owner that is. The altruistic mindset was clearly not registering a plus sign, meaning that just a carbon saving gain for the UK, and little else until the GD loan was paid off, was not enough. Perhaps they were right; the ‘Golden Rule’ offered no financial advantage other than enough to pay off the loan, and by the time it was paid the technology that had been originally installed would be out of date, and probably well under-performing by the technology standards of that day to come.

So where do we head from here?

It’s a precarious irony that although the government have frequently reminded us that as birth parents to the Green Deal, they are more than happy to relinquish the nurturing, and caring through the accelerated ageing of it’s teenage years, to the foster parents that are the “Market Forces”. Yet, they have now exercised their right to bring it back to their comfortable home for a haircut, wash behind the ears and some freshly starched underwear. One can’t help but imagine the next step, after a good talking to of course, as a tousle of the hair and a comforting hand on the shoulder before being sent off down the garden path to cut a dash in the world once more.

It is not at all helpful, but the industry has been driven to cynical ledge. A flagship programme has tripped over the starting blocks; since the demise of CERT and CESP, cavity wall insulation installations are down at one quarter of one percent from a year ago; one in four insulation installers no longer have their jobs; six months after a delayed start due to another oversight on passing of legislative powers to enable Green Deal financing, there still remain significant issues in securing the money to carry out installation work, and at the beginning of July 2013 the first Green Deal provider has been put into receivership. Does anyone detect a trend?

After lifting the lid, that is just what’s floating on the surface. Lurking in the depths of this cauldron the government have created a wounded beast that cannot be abandoned and left to die, but are also struggling to secure the industrial strength sticking plaster needed to stop the wounds from bursting. There will be heavy scarring, and there may be more casualties as our flagship scrapes its hull along this mud bank. There is open water in sight, if only because the principles around which the Green Deal has been constructed are, in themselves, robust. However, a contribution towards a national reduction in carbon emissions was never likely to cut it with your average consumer. Incentivisation anyone?

Contributor: Mark Wilson MCIAT started his career in January 1985 as a member of the Society of Architectural and Associated Technicians, and now represents himself under the heading – Chartered Architectural Technologist.

He has run his own practice for the past 13 years, having spent the previous time working for various Architects and Developers on a wide variety of projects. You can find about more about him via or Twitter

Tags: Green Deal, Construction, Carbon Saving