A SPOTLIGHT ON: Avenue Road | A Super-Prime Family Home, in the heart of North London.
Over the last six years, Knowles have consistently operated multiple sites located both on and around the prestigious Avenue Road, St Johns Woods in North London. Just a stone’s throw away from Primrose Hill, Regents Park and the infamous Abbey Road Studios, Knowles currently have three live schemes, all within 500 meters of each other.
With Avenue Road being crowned ‘North London’s premier address’ by PrimeResi, the area is perfect for investment properties with its unusually large plots of land for its central location, attracting many rich and famous residence. The area has undergone a revitalisation with a flurry of super-sized acquisitions over the last few years.
This ‘leafy St John’s Wood thoroughfare has overtaken The Bishop’s Avenue & Winnnington Road in terms of UHNW buyer appeal’, as stated by local agency Aston Chase, and is now ‘up there with the likes of Kensington Palace Gardens, The Boltons, Cornwall Terrace and Holland Park’.
Knowles is currently working as Principal Contractor on a new super-prime private residence in the heart of St Johns Wood. The project commenced back in August 2021, and our scope of works on this luxury residence include the initial demolition of the existing property, followed by the excavation of a double-depth basement and the re-build of an aesthetically sensitive and original style superstructure.
Included in Knowles’ package of works is the complete internal fit-out, designed by which includes high-spec luxury finishes, as well as the installation of key leisure facilities including a spa and swimming pool. Focus turns outside at this property to the garden area, which will be designed by leading landscape architect, Bowles & Wyer.
The professional team working on the project alongside Knowles are Architecture firm, SHH Architects, Structural Engineers, Ross & Partners, MEP Consultants, ME7 and Project Managers, Quantity Surveyor & Principal Designer, Jackson Coles.
Having already completed multiple schemes in close proximity to the project over the years, Knowles knew the project it wouldn’t come without challenges. However, with our extensive experience in delivering complex construction, and specialist knowledge on delivering such challenging projects, we felt confident in our ability to successful complete the project.
When speaking to the Knowles team on the challenges they faced, Site Manager, Ahmed Zair shared two main complexities that were to be faced on site. Firstly, the top-down excavation and its associated logistics, and secondly, the installation of the temporary propping to enable the excavation work to happen.
“The project is designed so that the basement covers almost the entire footprint of the site, including the site entrance from main street. Therefore, the inclusion of a top-down slab was required, in order to provide a loading /unloading area and access to site. This was followed by an excavation below the loading area which was 2 levels down (approximately 11m deep) and this was delivered using temporary propping to contiguous piles wall. Our experienced site team followed the safe system of work, while managing the excavation process by using the three different sized 360 excavators, from the lowest level to mid-level’’
“From an engineering perspective, temporary propping was used to support the contiguous piled wall while excavation to basement formation level was underway. The size and weight of the props required thorough and extensive planning and coordination – from its delivery to site, unloading and assembling the segments, to installing, testing & completion.”
QUICK FIRE Q&A | With Ahmed Zaire, Site Manager & Charlie Leese, Assistant Site Manager
Q: What is the most complex aspect of building a basement of this size/in general?
Ahmed – The retention of basement perimeter walls, the excavation logistics and the RC Basement Slabs.
Charlie – Being able to work at the pace required for programme, whilst always maintaining a safe working environment.
Q: What has been your favourite part of the project so far?
Ahmed – Our in-house piling and temporary works design, delivered all within Knowles, were executed successfully, efficiently and proved a practical solution for the design and site team planning and coordination. This was a result of rigorous planning beforehand within the management team, and the years of experience within the K piling team.
Charlie – Learning the skills of ‘setting out’ was my favourite part of the project so far. As a pivotal part of any project, learning this skill has been and will continue to be extremely beneficial to me as I grown within Knowles, allowing me to have a well-rounded skillset and knowledge, acting as both a site manager and site engineer. It is required through all stages of the project, from piling & groundworks, drainage, steeling fixing and shuttering. Therefore, with a project like this, that is designed with multiple level changes, walls etc, even marking points for a radius of a jacuzzi, has allowed me to gain a deeper understand every stage of the process from the larger to smaller details.
Q: What did you find interesting about his project?
Charlie – Piling, and seeing how Knowles’ in-house teamwork with such efficiency, which in turn, aided my understanding of the piling process greatly. Logistics, especially on such an intricate, yet expansive project, has been interesting, particularly when seeing how the management team and operatives on site have worked around a project that does have its logistically challenges.
Q: What do you believe is the key to delivering a successful project as complex as this?
- Teamwork – Building a team is the most important key factor in successful project delivery.
- Communication is also a key part of this – Clear, open, and honest communications are integral to any project and is often the reason many projects come unstuck.
- Organisation and planning for what is ahead in order to minimise disruption and delays.
- Management of expectations
- Teamwork and Communication
- A good understanding of all the processes involved in works of these nature.
- Maintaining a good relationships with neighbours, especially in such a populated area. For example, the project required the closure of a bust road in order for the tower crane to be erected. By having a good line of communication, regularly updating the site’s newsletter and always being responsive and understanding with any queries or complaints they might have, on the day we were able to complete this task with minimal disruption and no complaints.