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31 construction workers shot dead in Indonesia

In one of the worst separatist attacks in Indonesia’s restive province of Papua, 31 construction workers and a soldier were shot dead on Sunday and Monday.

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The men worked for state-owned contractor Istaka Karya, building bridges and roads in the impoverished region.

Twenty-four were killed when gunmen stormed a bridge construction site in a remote mountainous village in Nduga district, on the western half of New Guinea island.

Eight fled to the house of a local politician, but the gunmen came and killed seven of them on Monday,reports South China Morning Post.

Security forces were trying to recover the bodies today, but they were being guarded by the separatists.

After Dutch colonial rule, Papua declared itself an independent nation in 1961 but Indonesia took control of the region by force in 1963.


Trumps tariffs: US infrastructure schemes stagger under rising cost burden

Steeply rising inflation in the construction sector caused by President Donald Trump’s tariffs is hampering America’s ability to renovate its infrastructure, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The paper says this puts two of the Trump administration’s flagship policies – an aggressively mercantile approach to overseas trade, and a desire to invest in domestic infrastructure – in conflict with each other.

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According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the price of diesel was 27% higher than it was on October 2017, asphalt-paving mixtures were up 12%, and steel-mill products rose 18%.

The rise in steel prices was partly due to tariffs of 25% on steel imported from China and other countries, imposed in June. This has lowered competitive pressure on domestic mills, allowing them to raise their prices.

Among the victims of the inflation is the Foothill Gold Line, a 20km light rail extension outside Los Angeles.It will cost an extra $570m than expected, bringing the project’s total cost to $2.1bn and triggering a retendering of the work, the WSJ found.

Elsewhere, in Dover, New Hampshire, the winning bid on a flood-control project came in $1.5m higher than the city’s $3.3m estimate, a hike of just over 45%, which means the city may have to cancel other planned projects. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation said there had been a 30% surge in steel prices since the summer.

In West Virginia, a works programme that included repairing 25 bridges on Interstate 70 came in more than $100m higher than a state estimate. A spokesman told the WSJ that the state plans to put the project out to bid again. And a ferry terminal in Mukilteo, Washington, will be delayed after the lowest bid received was $12m above the state’s $65m budget.

Factors outside Trump’s tariffs are pushing up costs, however. Construction inflation has been exacerbated by the tightening labour market, as well.

Analysis by employers’ body the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) shows that construction added 30,000 jobs in the last two months and 330,000 jobs over the past year, topping 7.3 million for the first time since April 2008. Meanwhile, average pay jumped and unemployment decreased to a historic low.

“Despite the steep gains in employment and pay, a recent survey by the association finds contractors continue to struggle to find qualified workers,” the AGC said.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration had promised to put in place a $1.5 trillion renewal programme but, by March 2018, Congress had allotted just $21bn to it, slightly more than 1% of the total.



Scaffolders earn more than architects – UK body

The annual average salary of a scaffolder is now £40,942, according to a survey of smaller building companies, whereas that of a university-trained architect is just £38,228, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

In fact, plasterers, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians are all taking home more in pay a year than architects now, and not just architects but other professionals including teachers, veterinarians, nurses, and accountants, the FMB says.

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The highest reported annual salary for bricklayers in London was £90,000 a year.

The FMB used its findings to urge young people to enter the construction industry through paid apprenticeships rather than rack up debt getting a degree.

“Money talks and when it comes to annual salaries, a career in construction trumps many university graduate roles,” said FMB chief executive Brian Berry.

“The average university graduate in England earns £32,000 a year whereas our latest research shows that your average bricky or roofer is earning £42,000 a year across the UK. In London, a bricklayer is commanding wages of up to £90,000 a year,” said Berry.

“Pursuing a career in construction is therefore becoming an increasingly savvy move. University students in England will graduate with an average £50,800 of debt, according to The Institute for Fiscal Studies, while apprentices pass the finish line completely debt-free.

“Not only that, apprentices earn while they learn, taking home around £17,000 a year. We are therefore calling on all parents, teachers and young people, who too-often favour academic education, to give a career in construction serious consideration.”

Berry concluded: “The construction industry is in the midst of an acute skills crisis and we are in dire need of more young people, including women and ethnic minorities, to join us. Our latest research shows that more than two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers and 63 per cent are having problems hiring carpenters.

“This is a stark reminder of how the Government’s housing targets could be scuppered by a lack of skilled workers. The FMB is committed to working with the Government to improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships because the only way we will build a sustainable skills base is by training more young people, and to a high standard.”


Architects name Brazil children school’s timber complex best building in the world


Children Village, a new school complex on the edge of the rainforest in northern Brazil, has won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Prize 2018.

The complex, designed by Brazilian architects Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum, was chosen from a shortlist of four exceptional new buildings by a grand jury chaired by renowned architect Elizabeth Diller (DS+R).

The RIBA International Prize is awarded every two years to a building that exemplifies design excellence and architectural ambition, while also delivering meaningful social impact.

It is one of the world’s most rigorously judged architecture awards, with every longlisted building visited by a group of international experts.

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Covering an area of almost 25,000 m2, Children Village is organised into two identical complexes: one for girls and one for boys. Residences are centered around three large, open and well-shaded courtyards at ground level, where dormitory accommodation is located.

On the first floor, there are flexible communal spaces ranging from reading spaces and television rooms, to balconies and hammocks, where the children can relax and play.


Combining a contemporary aesthetic with traditional techniques, Children Village has been described by the judges as “reinventing Brazilian vernacular”. The building is constructed with local resources and based on local techniques.

Earth blocks handmade on site were used to construct the walls and latticework, chosen for their thermal, technical and aesthetic properties.

As well as being cost effective and environmentally sustainable, this approach creates a building with strong connections to its surroundings and with the community that it serves.

“Children Village provides an exceptional environment designed to improve the lives and wellbeing of the school’s children,” said RIBA President Ben Derbyshire. “It illustrates the immeasurable value of good educational design.”

Children Village provides boarding accommodation for 540 children aged 13 to 18 attending the Canuanã School.

Pupils come from remote areas of the country, some travelling many hours by boat. Funded by the Bradesco Foundation, Children Village is one of 40 schools run by the foundation providing education for children in rural communities across Brazil.

For the architects, Gustavo Utrabo and Petro Duschenes from Aleph Zero and Marcelo Rosenbaum and Adriana Benguela from Rosenbaum, the project shows how architecture can be a tool for social transformation. They worked closely with the children to identity their needs and desires for their school. They wanted to create an environment that could be a home away from home, where children could develop a strong sense of both individuality and belonging.

“It has been a joy to see the children making the building their own and adapting the space to fit their needs,” said Utrabo and Duschenes. “We wanted to be prescriptive without being overbearing, to be supportive without being patronising, and to encourage growth and development without cosseting it.”

For Rosenbaum and Benguela, “The space facilitates the interaction between public and private, and socialising between the collective, nature and the individual, reconnecting children and young people to their origins and with their surrounding ecosystem.”

About 20 new buildings in 16 countries ranging from large urban infrastructure schemes to private homes; cultural destinations to civic spaces; educational buildings to places of worship have received a RIBA Award for International Excellence”.

Source: Chinedum Uwaegbulam

US-Mexico Border Wall: Texas Firm Awarded $145Million Contract

Texas firm, SLS, has been awarded a $145 million contract to build a section of the US-Mexico border wall.

The contract, referred to as RGV-03, for the 9.6km stretch in the Rio Grande Valley area in the US state of Texas was awarded by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

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The project includes the construction and installation of a reinforced concrete levee wall to the height of the existing levee, with 5m-tall bollards installed on top, and vegetation removal along a 45m enforcement zone along the length of the wall.

The enforcement zone will also include detection technology, lighting, video surveillance and an all-weather patrol road running parallel to the levee wall.

Construction is scheduled to begin in February 2019.

SOURCE: khl.com

Global construction body gets new president

Turkish contractor Emre Aykar has unanimously been elected president of CICA (Confederation of International Contractors’ Associations) during its general assembly meeting in Paris, France.

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Aykar, who is a vice president of FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation) will replace Chilean contractor Jorge Mas from FIIC (Interamerican Federation of the Construction Industry), whose term of office has come to its statutory end.

CICA, established in 1974, represents the construction industry on a global scale.

Aykar has been a member of the FIEC steering committee since 2012, and has been in charge of CICA matters.

He is chairman of Yapı Merkezi Construction, based in Istanbul, Turkey, and a board member of Yapı Merkezi Holding Company, chairman of Subor GRP Pipe Production, and chairman of Freysaş Yapı Systems.

SOURCE: khl.com

NIC should be given statutory power – former UK housing minister

As part of the Raynsford Review, the former UK housing minister,Nick Raynsford, has said the “remit of the National Infrastructure Commission should be enhanced and placed on a statutory footing” to help with national and local planning.

The report, which makes 24 recommendations to overhaul the planning system in England, said the beefed up NIC would be responsible for managing the long-term strategy to guide the sustainable development and set out strategic growth and advice on where special planning arrangements might be needed.

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The review also recommends a new legal duty to deliver sustainable development and that the government restrict development that allows the conversion of commercial buildings to housing units without proper safeguards on quality.

Industry has backed the report, with John Alker, director of policy and places at the UK Green Building Council, saying the group supports the recommendation for a comprehensive definition of sustainable development to become a legal duty.

He said: “The review rightly highlights the need to tackle housing standards and poor-quality design. The proposed building code could offer much-needed clarity, if the future trajectory of standards – such as net zero carbon – were set out in advance.”

Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, was also supportive saying it was particularly important to establish a new covenant for community participation and eliminating “hope value” in the land market.

Simon Hesketh, director of regeneration at U+I, said Raynsford was right to focus on the current lack of clarity in the planning system.

He said: ”As we pointed out in our recent PPP: The Reset report, at least part of the answer must be in equipping communities to play a more informed part in shaping schemes. We need to tap into their knowledge, their understanding and their pride in their area.’

He said it was essential that the planning system was adapted to “genuinely offer this in an accessible way”.

SOURCE: building.co.uk


‘The Tulip’ set to become London’s tallest skyscraper

Developers have submitted plans to build a dramatic 305-metre viewing attraction dubbed ‘The Tulip’, which would be built alongside The Gherkin in the heart of London’s financial district.

Unlike its neighbouring skyscrapers throughout the Square Mile, The Tulip, which is just one metre smaller than the Shard, has not been proposed with office space in mind.

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Instead, the building would act as a “new public cultural and tourist attraction” to draw in visitors and schoolchildren to the City.

It is one of the most ambitious proposals to be put forward to the City of London Corporation since the historic body unveiled its draft plan late last month to allow for more skyscrapers in the Square Mile’s eastern cluster.

Appetite to relax the financial district’s development laws has mounted in recent months amid growing corporate demand for commercial property within the Square Mile.

While the City’s draft plan to broaden tower development will not be reviewed until later next year, growth of tall developments in the Square Mile has already been seen through a number of major developments in the last year.

Among the current skyscrapers under development are 22 Bishopsgate – known as Twenty two – which has already secured tenants such as insurers Hiscox and Beazley.

According to the New London Architecture’s most recent survey, London had more than 500 towers in the pipeline in 2017, compared with 455 in the previous year. The City of London is also the only borough to have an average height of more than 40 storeys in London.

If planning permission, put forward by J. Safra Group and Foster & Partners (owners and architects respectively) is given the green light, construction would be set to begin in 2020 with the project completed by 2025.


600,000 Homes Lay Vacant Across England

A new study has revealed the shocking extent of England’s empty homes crisis, with more than 600,000 homes remaining vacant. The study, conducted by Good Move, has found that a third of empty homes are classed as long-term vacant, after being empty for more than six months.

The city of Liverpool takes the crown for the most vacant properties, with a staggering 10,512 properties laying empty last year. The data comes despite efforts by Liverpool City Council to reduce the amount of unused homes with a free matchmaking service to introduce buyers and sellers of empty homes, in a bid to bring more empty homes into use.

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Birmingham follows closely behind, with 10,386 empty homes. The city famous for its Bullring accounts for 17% of West Midlands’ total number of unoccupied homes. The Yorkshire city of Leeds has the third highest number of empty homes throughout the country, with 10,263 properties vacant. Leeds’ empty homes equates to 14% of Yorkshire and the Humber’s empty homes.

The North West has the most unoccupied properties, with 102,847 homes laying empty across the region, and 38% of those being vacant for longer than six months. Liverpool has the most empty homes in the North West, and the country as a whole, with 10,512 properties that are not in use in 2017.

Following closely behind the North West is the South East, with a staggering 86,693 vacant properties last year. Of the 86,000 empty homes, 29% of those have been unoccupied for longer than six months.

SOURCE: bdcmagazine.com

London real estate lures overseas clients despite BREXIT ‘no deal’ fears

Central London has seen sustained levels of both leasing and investment activity so far in 2018 and corporate property consultant JLL anticipates that the final numbers will match, if not exceed those recorded in 2017.

£12.2 billion of central London offices have been traded in the first three quarters of 2018 following a strong Q3 performance where £4.3 billion of transactions were recorded. These latest year-to-date figures are only 6 per cent down on the corresponding period for 2017, a year that saw record investment volumes of £17.7 billion.

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Currently, £4 billion of assets are identified as under offer and another £4 billion of stock on the market and although this suggests that activity towards the end of the year will remain strong, it also highlights the lack of investment opportunities compared with the same period of 2017 when £16 billion was available.

Take-up of offices across central London reached 8.3 million square feet at the end of Q3 2018, with 3.1 million sq ft leased in the West End and 4.5m sq ft in the City.Active demand remains well above the 10-year average, with over 9 million sq ft of enquiries currently searching for space – with demand spread across the occupier spectrum.

Looking towards the transition at Brexit, and especially in the event of ‘no deal’, the leasing market could become relatively subdued as occupiers reconsider embarking on any new commitments in the short term.This will be relatively mild, however, as most demand is driven by unavoidable lease events rather than expansion, says JLL.

Julian Sandbach, head of Central London Capital Markets at JLL, said: “At the beginning of the year it seemed unlikely that investment volumes would reach similar levels to the bumper numbers we saw in 2017, and now it looks possible that they could even be surpassed. Despite the degree of uncertainty around the outcome of Brexit, London continues to attract significant levels of overseas capital who continue to target prime assets.

“As the record levels of foreign capital demonstrate the majority of international investors feel that whilst London is subject to some short-term uncertainty, the long-term prospects for London as a global gateway city with a secure investment platform, underpinned by the long-term commitments of occupiers, remain unchanged.”

SOURCE: bdcmagazine.com

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