Case Study Wandsworth

The Problem
The recent Covid crisis has been hugely disruptive for many, and resulted in large swathes of the country working from home or stopping work altogether. Optera are an Insurance industry based, structural repair contractor and were therefore designated a critical key worker during the pandemic. Many large scale infrastructure projects have been progressed during lockdown and with schools shut, Optera were asked to mobilise quickly and resolve an ongoing issue with the boundary walls of a primary school in Wandsworth. The walls were leaning dangerously into the adjoining footpath and with many young and vulnerable children using the route for the daily commute to school, the need to act immediately was evident.

The Optera Solution
Whilst the initial surveys were completed at Christmas, Optera were looking for a safe window to carry out the works and initially it was decided that the summer holidays would be a suitable period in which to complete the works. With the Prime Minister advising all schools to shut and that everyone was to work from home unless it was not possible to carry out your work from home, Optera set about devising safe systems of work. We implemented social distancing and safeguards for our site operatives to complete the works safely, whilst increasing sanitation and introducing daily recording of operatives temperatures as part of the signing in process. Everyone travels independently of each other and a stringent cleaning process was devised for all common touch surfaces.

A footpath closure was implemented with Wandsworth Council and the works area secured with herras fencing and the path protected, we commenced works 4 weeks ago. Upon arrival, further walls were damaged, and the scheme almost doubled in size. The existing walls were taken down and disposed off site. The existing footings, grubbed out and a new, piled, heave protected ground beam was installed. The cause of the damage was understood to be clay shrinkage, caused by trees within the school grounds and those within the highway. The new piled ground beams cater for the prevailing conditions and have allowed the new wall to be constructed sympathetically to the street scene whilst providing a robust solution to the underlying conditions. Reclaimed London common bricks were sourced to rebuild the failed sections, blending naturally with the appearance of surrounding structure

Project Conclusion
Finishing the works this week and on budget, Optera have ensured the ongoing safety of children and pedestrians attending the school and walking past. Our swift and decisive actions in difficult and worrying times have minimised the impact on the schools activities and those of the surrounding residents who are largely at home. Working with our supply partners we have delivered the project in incredibly challenging circumstances and would like to wish the staff and pupils well at St Faiths primary school good luck in opening back to the limited pupils in June, safe in the knowledge that the physical dangers of the failing walls are no more.

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