Some of the most noteworthy construction & property stories from the last week, as compiled by the team at Construction Network Ireland.
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Grafton Architects have won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Prize, one of the most prestigous new awards in building design, an accolade which honours the architects responsible for creating the ‘best new building in the world’.
The award is for a vertical, concrete university campus in Peru, the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC), and is the first ever winner of the prize.
The jury said that “Grafton Architects have created a new way to think about a university campus, with a distinctive vertical campus structure responding to the temperate climatic conditions and referencing Peru’s terrain and heritage”.
The photo’s of the vertical campus look simply stunning. Congratulations to all at Grafton involved in this great example of civil architecture.
In education news closer to home, UCC stunned the education and construction sectors simultaneously, no mean feat in and of itself, when it announced a jaw-dropping €241 million investment plan that could create over 500 construction jobs in the next couple of years.
The University has signed a €100 million investment deal with the European Investment Bank (EIB) which will see a multifaceted investment over a large variety of areas, including student accommodation, medical research, hospital facilities and a science park.
Part of the investment will include funding for partner hospitals in Waterford, Kerry & Tipperary.
It was a week full of surprises, and none more so than the announcement by Central Bank Governor Philip Lane that the authority was slashing the amount that first-time buyers had to save for a deposit.
The Central Bank also increased the leeway that banks have with the rest of the market – although non-first time buyers still have to have at least a 20% deposit, banks can use their own discretion in up to a fifth of cases.
When the governments incentives for first time buyers of new homes are taken into account, deposits have tumbled significantly in the last couple of years.
As the Irish Times points out, under the new rules, “first-time buyers eyeing a new-build worth €400,000 will now need a deposit of €20,000 compared with €58,000 previously”.
This is good news indeed – now we just need more new houses built to keep up with demand.
SIAC and a company it was in partnership with are seeking €214 million in compensation from the Polish authorities over a dispute on a €400 million motorway contract.
The disputed contract relates to 35km of the A4 motorway in Poland; SIAC has submitted claims for €64 million against GDDKiA, the Polish roads authority, and expects to file claims for a further €150 million shortly.
If successful SIAC’s share of the compensation will be €100 million, though it is believed that the GDDKiA will defend the case.
The latest Quarterly National Household Survey shows that, year on year, employment is up by 57,500 in the three months to September, and employment in the construction industry is a major factor in the increase.
Overall 12 of the 14 sectors surveyed showed increases in employment, but the hotel and restaurant sector and construction sector showed the biggest increases. The two sectors combined accounted for almost 40%, of all the new jobs created in the past year.
A £160 million road scheme in Northern Ireland has been delayed after an appeal by environmentalists on the legality of the site investigations and ecological surveys.
The A6 is the main road between Belfast and Derry and a 14km upgrade to the route is planned in two 7km stretches. The case is due to be heard in early 2017.
A new research group from the IMF aims to compare construction costs around the world, opening up the possibility that costs of building in Ireland can be compared with countries around the world within a short period of time.
The International Construction Measurement Standards Coalition (ICMS) is comprised of over 40 professional bodies, has launched a global research project in an attempt to improve consistency and reduce risk for investors in construction projects around the globe.
The National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) has denied that it leaked sensitive detailes relating to businessmen Michael and John O’Flynn and their company O’Flynn Construction Ltd, in a case heard before the commercial the Commercial Court on Monday.
The case also names former NAMA employee Enda O’Farrell, with an address in Belgium, who pleaded guilty before Dublin Circuit Court last May to eight counts of unlawfully disclosing information. He was given a two-year suspended term.
Legal counsel for the O’Flynn’s claim that the alleged leaks had a negative impact on prices achieved by both them and NAMA in relation to disposal of assets from 2010-2013 and also in a significant loan sale in 2014.
NAMA denies the case which will continue before the commercial court at a hearing date to be decided shortly.
US firms are snapping up more Irish shopping centres – Davidson Kempner has bought a majority holding in Navan Town Centre for an estimated €62 million, while Oaktree is the top bidder for the Fairgreen Shopping Centre for an estimated €12 million.
Both firms have invested heavily in Ireland in recent years – for more detail read the full report in the Irish Times.
Will the wall be built, or won’t the wall be built? Residents of Texas, Mexico and Co. Clare are waiting to see if Donald Trump does what he has promised.
While the wall in the US seems significantly less probable now that Trump has actually been elected, the wall in Co. Clare is also in doubt – according to the Clare Champion,Trump has until the end of 2016 to respond to demands from Clare Co. Council for more detail on the proposed wall.
Eric Trump, son of The Donald, visited Doonbeg last week and estimated that the company was “…probably north of €50m in terms of the total investment in the property” and that they would invest significantly more in the property if the coastal defences were given the go ahead. “We’re going to build an unbelievable ballroom, truly world-class”.
The message from the Trumps is clear – ‘Build the wall and make Doonbeg great again’. Hopefully Clare Co. Council insist on more detail than that…