Client: Speller Metcalfe

A new £4.3 million, 650sqm, lakeside conference centre is one of the latest developments to take place at the University of Warwick.

The impressive construction project which overlooks the existing lake giving the impression of a building floating above water was awarded to Speller Metcalfe. Speller Metcalfe are a market leader in the industry due to their passion for innovation and excellence, delivered by a skilled and experienced team of over 200.

Once complete the building will sit over the water edge so the first problem to address was how to hold back the lake to allow for construction. The works had to remain sensitive to the natural habitat; the lake is a haven for wildlife and fish, as well as the daily operations of a busy university campus.

The temporary structure would be essential to the progress of the £4.3m project and would need to remain in place for a period of approximately 10 months.

“The position adjacent to the pond creates a few challenges for our site team,” said Adrian Speller, Director of Sustainability at Speller Metcalfe. “It was decided the fish should be transferred to a part of the lake that wouldn’t cause them further disruption or harm, which was done by way of a stun process.

To solve this issue Speller Metcalfe looked to OnSite and their PortaDam system. With vast experience in a wide range of applications, including construction projects associated with the Olympic development, where a PortaDam was used in one location for a two year project.

OnSite installed the 3-sided, 80m long, 2m high PortaDam and arranged for the large Koi Carp that populated the lake to be transferred to the lake side of the dam.

Installation was carried out over two days and once de-watered the dam signed off, (after a 24 hour standing period) and Speller Metcalfe were then able to start with the piling and footings.

The low impact installation method resulted in minimal disruption to wildlife and campus life.


“I originally worked with OnSite during the construction of the new Dudley Canal Trust visitor centre in 2015. Their helpful and professional approach made them stand out from the crowd and we have since worked with them on the construction of the new conference centre for the University of Warwick. As a Company, we would not hesitate to work with them again.”

Adrian Speller, Director






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