2022: A Year of Promise for Commercial Build and Refurbishment
It is a mark of the resilience of the UK's construction industry that the impact of the covid-19 pandemic caused what turned out to be little more than a stumble in the country's dynamic programme of major building and refurbishment projects. As we look ahead to 2022, there are many bright examples of postponed schemes being rescheduled, interrupted ones restarted and new ones enthusiastically commenced. Housing, hospitality and commerce are areas set to benefit from significant developments.
The transformation of London into a modern city of glass, steel and landmark architecture continues at speed. In the heart of the financial district, Mace is the lead contractor on the construction of the brand new Stanza London, a £400 million, 34-storey building designed as a form of homage to the classic skyscrapers built in US cities a hundred years ago. Since the construction of the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie and the Cheese-grater, nicknames have become de rigeur for such high-profile projects and Stanza has already been named 'Gotham City' after the imposing cityscape of the Batman comic books.
Elsewhere in the Capital, the iconic grade-II listed building in Grosvenor Square which housed the US embassy for nearly 60 years and witnessed the tumultuous protests of the late 1960s, is being transformed under the guidance of architect David Chipperfield into a luxury hotel with 139 rooms and a grand ballroom. The £400 million price tag represents a substantial vote of confidence in London's hospitality sector. The wider plan includes new retail spaces and a public realm upgrade of the entire square.
Away from London, there is no shortage of headlines. Under yet another nickname we welcome the 'Hanging Gardens of Salford', which is part of the £1 billion redevelopment of Manchester's smaller neighbour. The building at 4 New Bailey is being constructed to the highest environmental standards and its exterior will be 'living walls' covered with 4,000 square metres of foliage. Unlike some of the city centre creations of recent years, 4 New Bailey at just 10 storeys will dominate not through its height but by virtue of its utterly unique appearance. Its most important influence, however, is likely to be the fact that once operational, the building will run entirely on renewable energy with state-of-the-art Passivhaus insulation. Perhaps one day all buildings will be built this way.
Also in the north west, the £5 billion redevelopment of the Liverpool docks continues. Liverpool Waters is one of the largest regeneration schemes in Europe, pursuing a 30 year vision of what this historic part of Liverpool can be for future generations. Stretching 2km along the Mersey, it will provide hotel and conference facilities covering 53,000 square metres as well as 315,000 square metres of office space. Everton FC's new ground and a new £45 million ferry terminal are expected to be completed in 2022 or early 2023.
Let's not overlook the imminent arrival of a touch of Hollywood in the comparatively modest setting of Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire. Sunset Studios, the US film company responsible for international hits including 'When Harry Met Sally', 'La La Land' and 'Hannah Montana', is expecting to be granted planning permission for its £700 million development of the 91-acre site, to feature 21 sound stages, offices, workshops and green space. Hertfordshire is fast earning a name as Britain's Hollywood with Sky Studios and Warner Brothers both established nearby.
These are all major projects that have made headlines around the world and require the involvement of specialist skills, innovative technology and the finest talent in the sector. But while these schemes serve as bright beacons for UK construction, there are scores of other lower-key projects in progress, demonstrating that this is one of the UK's truly world-class industries.