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Curtins has joined the government’s Kickstart Scheme

Date: 22nd October 2021

Curtins has joined the government’s Kickstart Scheme

We are pleased to announce that Curtins has enrolled in the Kickstart Scheme. This is a government funded programme to provide paid placements for young people who have been out of work for some time and equip them with employability skills so that they are in a better position to find work in the future.  

Improving social mobility and providing opportunities for young people was part of our founder’s ethos, and we maintain this today in our desire to positively impact on the communities we serve and leave a lasting legacy.  

Social mobility in the UK has been declining for several years, and according to statistics published by the government, over half of the public believe that the pandemic has increased social inequality, with a worsening impact on housing, finances and job prospects.  

As part of the Kickstart Scheme, we will be providing 6-month placements, initially in our Liverpool and Manchester offices, that will include support for young people to help them find work after their time with us. We hope to be able to expand the placements to some of our other offices in the new year.  

The Kickstart trainees will have the chance to develop technical STEM skills through working with our teams across specialisms – opening up career paths for them in engineering, transport planning and environmental services.  

For Curtins, the programme will help us widen our demographic of talent within the business and welcome new ideas, enthusiasm and digital know-how. 

We hope that by providing these opportunities in a supportive and safe environment we can make a small but important step to improving the prospects of these young people and helping to overturn the downwards trajectory of social mobility in the UK, with the support of the government and the Social Mobility Pledge.  

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Curtins welcomes new Technical Director in our Bristol office

Date: 22nd September 2021

Curtins welcomes new Technical Director in our Bristol office

Curtins are delighted to announce that Mat McNab has joined our Bristol office as Technical Director to support the expanding team. With over 30 years in industry, Mat brings a wealth of knowledge and joins us from Ramboll, where he was responsible for Technical Excellence.

Mat has significant senior management experience and a wide-ranging project portfolio of landmark projects. From the visitors’ centre at Stonehenge to the biomass conversion of Drax Power Station, he has delivered offices, schools, hospitals, care homes and residential schemes that impressively range from £5m to £300m and complement Curtins’ own sector diversity.

Mat will assist office Director, Stephen Beggs in growing the Bristol team and delivering Curtins’ unrivalled service recognised by our clients in the southwest market and beyond.

As a leading consultancy, we can offer all of our seven specialisms from our Bristol office, which include civils, structures, transport planning, geo-environmental, infrastructure, principal designer and conservation engineering services.

Our current projects include the upward extension of a landmark building in Aztec West, the design of the largest student residential Passivhaus project in Europe at UWE, new facilities for Guide Dogs for the Blind and Dorset Police, and the development of the St Mary Le Port site in Bristol, which Mat will lead once it receives planning permission.

Mat McNab comments: “I’m excited to join the fantastic Curtins team at a time when the industry is undergoing huge transformation, and I’m looking forward to working with the team to deliver the great projects we have.

“Taking a sustainable approach to design has always been important to me and it will be very rewarding to continue taking Curtins’ industry leading approach to carbon reduction.

“This, and the potential promised by digitalisation, are the two biggest challenges we face as an industry. I look forward to helping Curtins continue to rise to the digitalisation challenge.  

“I’m delighted to be joining a company that is owned by its staff and has an ethos of truly looking after them.

In his previous role, Mat was responsible for leading Ramboll’s Digital and Innovation drive and Project and Design Management. He will be assisting Curtins to further mature our established approach to digital delivery over the coming years.

Stephen Beggs, office Director, added: “We’re so pleased that Mat has joined Curtins. He brings significant technical and commercial experience which will strengthen our team greatly. I’m excited at the prospect of moving forward together with Mat and our established team in Bristol.

To contact Mat, please email mat.mcnab@curtins.com or call the office on 0117 302 7560.

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Curtins to present twice at Education Estates

Date: 20th September 2021

Curtins to present twice at Education Estates

The Education Estates Conference is taking place from 12-13th October and the programme is set to include two presentations by Curtins Directors.

At 10.20am on 12th October on the Sustainability Stage, Director Stephen Beggs will be presenting on Carbon reduction: A plan for carbon reduction in building design and the journey so far. He will be followed at 3.30pm by Andy Macfarlane, who will present on his specialist topic of Modern Methods of Construction.

The Education Estates conference will cover funding, design, construction, management and maintenance of learning establishments across the UK – relevant to both new builds and refurbishments – with leading spokespeople from across the industry. Here are further details on Curtins’ sessions:

12th October, 10.20am: Carbon Reduction with Stephen Beggs

Climate change is a reality and building designers have an obligation to act now.

This presentation sets out a plan for achieving change and discusses Curtins’ progress since 2020. Starting with how to measure and quantify carbon, it will compare a designer’s personal and professional carbon impacts; demonstrating how a designer’s annual professional impact could be 100 times greater than their personal impact.

The session will also cover Curtins’ updated embodied carbon assessment tool and carbon toolkit within Revit. These are used from concept design stages onwards to review the impact of different design options and assess the embodied carbon in detailed models, allowing project teams to make informed, data-based decisions.

12th Oct, 3.30pm: Modern Methods of Construction in the education sector with Andy Macfarlane

The presentation will introduce the background and terminology around MMC, explore how it can be applied to modern education projects, provide project examples and discuss Curtins’ MMC Options Appraisal Toolkit.

The MMC Options Appraisal Toolkit is applicable to schools, colleges and higher education, and ensures that all categories of MMC are properly considered to achieve the highest practical Pre-Manufactured Value (PMV) to meet the Government’s “presumption in favour” of MMC.

The presentation will also consider how additional technologies can be integrated into traditional construction techniques to add value to the scheme and support the principles of MMC.

Click here to view the conference programme.

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Smart engineering solution developed in paper for Cranfield University

Date: 26th August 2021

Smart engineering solution developed in paper for Cranfield University

Curtins have been working with Cranfield University to develop the hanger canopy for their new Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTec), which is now complete. Designed by architect Burrell Foley Fischer, the DARTeC building will allow aircrafts to be monitored, tested and upgraded.

Our main focus has been on the creation of a large canopy that provides protection for an aircraft. The canopy and building roofs mirror each other to form matching ‘stealth fighter’ profiles when viewed from above.

Despite being square on plan, this aircraft hanger is the only one in the country with just three legs. It’s supported on three inverted V-shape columns with an arrangement of 42m trusses that span the distance needed to clear the plane. These trusses support the cantilever arrangement which allows the plane in and out of its new accommodation.

Most projects begin on paper, and this was no exception. The clever solution was initially ‘drawn up’ as a paper model, before being translated into a 3D digital design using Revit. A federated model was also provided for the university that includes structures, architecture and M&E.

The main trusses used for the structure are over 42m long and were built in sections onsite, although the largest component was still over 10m long by 6m high and weighed more than 6 tonnes. Overall, 108 tonnes of structural steel completed the canopy.

The unique design and DARTeC building represent an important investment by Cranfield University into aviation technology, and we are proud to have provided civil, structural and environmental engineering for the world-class project.

View our case study for more information on the project

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Curtins and CIRIA publication shortlisted for prestigious Ground Engineering Award

Date: 18th August 2021

Curtins and CIRIA publication shortlisted for prestigious Ground Engineering Award

Curtins and Soil and Structures have been nominated for our collective work with CIRIA in preparing the CIRIA report C785 – Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Risk Management Guide for Land-based Projects. The work has been shortlisted for the Health and Safety award at the prestigious Ground Engineering Awards 2021.

The nomination follows the report’s inclusion in the Brownfield Awards shortlist for Best Scientific/Technical/Digital Advance.

The publication provides advice and guidance on UXO risk management – one of the many hazards affecting land-based projects in the UK – and is intended for use by those who work takes them into the ground or requires them to assess UXO risk.

Matt Lomas, Head of Geo-environmental North at Curtins, comments, “the guidance was written to help those in the built environment navigate UXO risk, and we are pleased to see it continuing to get recognition in the industry with yet another award nomination”.

The Ground Engineering Award winners will be announced in at a ceremony in London on 23rd November 2021.

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Curtins’ Civil Engineering Insight Programme begins

Date: 29th July 2021

Curtins’ Civil Engineering Insight Programme begins

Curtins’ inaugural Civil Engineering and Sustainable Insight Programme kicked off on 14th July with 27 budding civil engineering students. The students, who are due to graduate from university in summer 2022, all share in Curtins’ vision and passion for infrastructure and have embarked on the 5 week online programme to discover more about the specialism.

They are undertaking live training sessions with internal subject matter experts and external speakers leading on key modules around:

  • Why infrastructure is so important to society
  • Technical masterplanning and the project lifecycle
  • Digital delivery, BIM and the future of our industry
  • Sustainability, net zero and our responsibility in engineering design
  • Careers and continuous professional development

The programme has been supported by Graitec who have provided access to their online training, as well as the chance to win an iPad for one of the students, based on a reflective assessment.

The scheme will culminate with a careers carousel and personal development planning on 11th August.

For more information on our work experience opportunities and placements, click here.

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Decarbonising Precast Concrete project results launched

Date: 27th July 2021

Decarbonising Precast Concrete project results launched

Curtins have been supporting Akerlof, Forterra, PCE and Accelar on an Innovate UK-funded project to decarbonise precast concrete systems and we are delighted to share the results of the research.

Watch the video and download the report here.

More than 30 experts were involved on this project with specialities in precast design, precast manufacture mixes, offsite construction and measuring embodied carbon. The team’s circular and collaborative approach to promoting innovation in precast concrete systems has resulted in the potential to reduce 40% of the build asset’s embodied carbon across the product (A1-A3) and construction (A4-A5) stage.

The project has been supported by the Ministry of Justice (external stakeholder), where this holistic driven approach involved the team undertaking an initial benchmark exercise on the real-world HM Prison Glen Parva House Block super-structure to identify the embodied carbon intensive packages. Design studies were then developed to target these intensive packages and identify the optimal structural form in conjunction with leveraging an enhanced manufacture mix to reduce material quantities at the product stage (A1-A3) for the build asset. Followed by mapping out the operation activities across the supply chain to reduce the impact of embodied carbon across the construction stage (A4-A5) for the build asset.

The resulting process is technically ready and commercially viable, and ready for adoption across the construction sector, including in private sale and rental residential, student housing, schools, custodial and healthcare infrastructure.

Why is this an important milestone?

Precast concrete is one of the most widely adopted modern methods of construction (MMC), with the UK market forecast to grow by 18% to £2.3 billion by 2024. As whole-life emissions calculations become more intrinsic to the UK’s built environment, precast concrete’s carbon intensive nature at the beginning of its lifecycle will prove problematic for many designers and specifiers of new buildings if no new ways are adopted.

The collaborative team hope that this work will stimulate and form the basis of further advancements with the precast concrete sector and demonstrate the power of collaboration in providing inspiration to other net zero initiatives.

You can watch a video of our recent webinar, exploring the results, here.

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Curtins hands over ownership to its staff in monumental transition

Date: 15th July 2021

Curtins hands over ownership to its staff in monumental transition

After 61 years of independence, we have made the monumental transition to become an Employee-Owned Trust, giving our people an increased ability to influence business decision making and share in the company’s financial successes.

We were established in Liverpool in 1960 in the back bedroom of founder and lecturer at the Liverpool College of Building, Bill Curtin.

“What we’re doing is so aligned with Bills’ philosophy and principal of making sure our people are at the heart of our company,” states Chief Executive, Rob Melling.

Through the new structure, everyone employed by Curtins will have a share in the company’s financial performance and enjoy the benefits from their efforts.

Our former share ownership scheme where staff owned approximately 25% of the business, was first introduced in 2002, shortly after Rob Melling joined the Board of Directors.

That ownership scheme allowed people from outside the Board to also own shares in the business based on certain eligibility criteria, or to be gifted them as a reward for long service. This resulted in us being listed in the Top 50 Employee-Owned Companies for a number of years prior to this transition.

On the timing of this step, Rob Melling comments, “By implementing the transition now, at a time of bright prospects for Curtins, we believe that the stars have aligned to achieve key benefits for our people.”

Curtins employs over 350 staff across our 14 offices in the UK and Ireland. We have maintained our independence since we were founded, which we believe is a strong and compelling reason for why our clients choose us.

“Whilst our staff have always been focussed on delivering what our clients need from us, we believe that being part of the EOT will give our staff an even greater desire to achieve our company objectives, and serving clients is at the very heart of that,” adds Melling.

In order to achieve the transition, members of our Board and other staff shareholders have transferred their shares to the EOT, confident that this is a positive step for the business and the people employed by it.

“We genuinely believe that this is best for the business and our people. For those that don’t get it, my response is just wait and see,” remarks Melling.

Under the new structure, staff will be able to influence business decisions through our employee forum comprising of 28 representatives from across all of our offices.

Ultimately the Board of Directors will still have responsibility for running the business and will be accountable to a Trustee Board, which will include two elected members of the employee forum. The Employee Trustee Directors are Helene John, Office Manager in our Cardiff office, and Stephen Beggs, Director in Bristol.

Melling adds, “As an Employee-Owned Trust, I believe that the company and the individuals who work within it will flourish in a truly collaborative structure.”

To mark and celebrate the transition, Curtins commissioned an artwork by a Liverpool-based artist, Olga Snell through local art organisation dot-art. The kaleidoscopic digital collage will be displayed in the reception area of our head office in Liverpool.

Olga commented about the commission, “When I’m working on collages like this with lots of elements about the subject I like to call them Totems – so this is the Curtins’ Totem, a collage ‘structure’ as a metaphor for the company, the work they do, their inspirational story and ethos.”

The transition to an Employee-Owned Trust was officially signed and declared on 14th July 2021, paving the way for an exciting and more collaborative future for our business and our employees.

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Curtins shortlisted for Consultancy of the Year

Date: 15th June 2021

Curtins shortlisted for Consultancy of the Year

We have been shortlisted for the Consultancy of the Year at the Insider Wales Property Awards 2021.

The awards will celebrate the achievements of property and construction companies, deals, developments, advisory firms and individuals across Wales. The finalists were chosen by Insider’s panel of independent judges.

The winner will be revealed at the Property Awards ceremony, which are to be held at Cardiff City Hall on 15th September.

View our awards

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Curtins appointed to South East Wales Technical & Professional Services (SEWTAPS) Framework

Date: 15th June 2021

Curtins appointed to South East Wales Technical & Professional Services (SEWTAPS) Framework

We are delighted to announce that Curtins has been appointed to the South East Wales Technical and Professional Services framework (SEWTAPS) in Lot 2 – Civil and Highway Engineering Consultants as well as Lot 8 – Geotechnical Consultants.

SEWTAPS is a 4-year framework operated by Cardiff Council covering a wide range of infrastructure and consulting services open to all Public Sector organisations.  This award is a fantastic opportunity for Curtins to be involved in supporting some of Wales’ upcoming ground-breaking projects.

Speaking about the appointment, Dean Saxton, Technical Director, Curtins said: “I’m thrilled to share that we have been successfully appointed to the SEWTAPS framework. Curtins have provided over 30 years of service to public sector clients within Wales and this framework will provide us with an opportunity to continue in our delivery; with a focus on social value and championing low carbon solutions.

SEWTAPS enables Curtins to be appointed by direct award or mini-competition.

Please get in touch if you would like to know more.