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Monami scheme was one of the first to be completed Under Covid-19 Return To Work Safely Protocol

Poplar Row residential scheme comprising 29 apartments.

One of the first projects on which new Covid-19 operating procedures were introduced, as it was approved by Dublin City Council to reopen early after the first lockdown, Monami Construction’s Poplar Row, Dublin, residential scheme presented significant logistics challenges. But the contractor delivered with minimal delay.

While the overall construction sector reopened in May 2020 after the first Covid-19 shutdown, Monami Construction’s Poplar Row, Dublin, residential project for approved housing body Oaklee Housing received a dispensation to reopen in April. It was one of three projects to receive this designation through Dublin City Council.

As it was one of the first sites to reopen, it was closely monitored at the time to see if it could operate successfully, strictly adhering to HSE and government Covid-19 public health guidelines and the Return To Work Safely Protocol.

The brief

Before all of this happened, Monami Construction had been making steady progress on the project located close to Croke Park between Ballybough Road and Annesley Bridge Road.

The brief from Oaklee Housing was for the partial demolition of original four-storey buildings on the site and the construction of a new five-storey block to provide housing for older people in the community. The project comprises 29 apartments with balconies. The apartment block includes 25 one-bed apartments, four two-bed apartments, and a maintenance unit with associated storage.

Challenges

As well as being on a busy road, the construction site was tight and presented several logistics challenges.

Darran Hennessy, Contracts Director, Monami Construction, explains some of the challenges faced: “As the development occupied the entire footprint of the site, just-in-time deliveries were essential due to the minimal storage space available.

“A section of public roadway was procured from Dublin City Council to allow a delivery drop-off and set-down area. We temporarily re-aligned the traffic lanes to ensure the safe movement of pedestrians and vehicles.

“We had a prolonged period of inclement weather when high winds impacted the superstructure works,” he continues. “However, to ensure progress was maintained, the steel-frame element proceeded, and the concrete frame element followed when weather conditions allowed us to do so.”

He adds that local groups were given regular briefings on the project’s status due to its location in a residential community.

“Look-ahead programmes were posted on the site hoardings regularly, plus site management attended community meetings to liaise directly with any parties that expressed concern. Once Covid-19 restrictions were introduced, these meetings were moved to the virtual space.”

Construction on the east and west boundaries of the building presented challenges.

“Some of the work was carried out above occupied residences,” Hennessy explains. “A cantilevered scaffolding design was successfully implemented on site, which helped overcome this issue.”

Meeting the schedule

The initial programme schedule was for a 15-month build. This was impacted by the first Covid-19 lockdown and then by some additional client-requested internal alterations. However, the overall project was completed in 20 months.

Hennessy says that the team was delighted when the site reopened after the first lockdown and that all people on site bought into CIF Covid-19 Pandemic Standard Operating Procedure from day one.

“The new operating procedure impacted all aspects of the project,” he says. “As we were one of the first sites to reopen, we had very little in terms of precedence to work with, but we knew we had to get everything right from the start as there were increased inspections and attention on construction sites. How we carried out site inductions, task durations, morning and lunch breaks, to name a few, all had to be adapted to suit the new procedures, and these changes were monitored closely. On reopening, the project was at the stage where the building was weathertight, so completing internal finishes posed the challenge of maintaining social distancing. But the on-site teams followed the new procedures set down for us to operate the site successfully.”

Services provision

Monami Construction’s M&E services coordinator Paddy Roche worked closely with the design team and specialist subcontractors to manage all the services.

Roche explains: “Monami prepared a sample apartment that showed all first fix pipe runs, cable runs and ductwork. This set a benchmark for quality at an early stage and enabled management to supervise works without any programme implications.”

Monami Construction also implemented a ‘Utility Connection Tracker’ that guided the design team and the client on a step-by-step basis to ensure utility connections were made in a timely manner, thus avoiding unnecessary delays to the project.

The completed project is a hi-spec low-energy development. Each apartment has gas-fired condensing boilers. The electricity supply is supplemented by PV panels installed on the roof.

Unique design

The key feature of this development is its design, a combination of three feature-brick entrance staircases and a four-story façade that cantilevers dramatically at one end, which creates unique front and side elevations.

Despite the hurdles encountered during its construction, this building was a huge success. Its unique design, combined with a successful build, have created a building with which all parties, including the local community, are very pleased.

Darran Hennessy says that the Poplar Row apartment development is just one of several recently completed residential developments by Monami Construction, but it is an exemplary project completed in unique circumstances.

“Oaklee Housing’s Poplar Row development will act as a flagship for Monami Construction for future similar developments well into the future.”

Monami Construction

Despite the challenges that have hit everyone in the sector in the past year, Monami Construction has maintained a steady output of residential work.

It recently completed St Pancras apartment and housing development in Harold’s Cross, Dublin. In Galway, it is due to complete Moycullen housing development in the coming weeks. Also on site at the moment is Bartra Capital’s Poplar Row apartment development in Dublin 3. This is due for completion in early 2022. Gaelcarrig housing development in Galway city is ongoing and scheduled for completion in early 2022. The contractor is also about to start work on the Cherrywood T2 housing development for Quintain Ireland, which comprises 136 units in a 14-month programme.

Monami

PROJECT TEAM

Client: Oaklee Housing

Main Contractor: Monami Construction

Architect: Cooney Architects

M&E Consultant: IN2 Engineering Design Partnership

Quantity Surveyor: MacMinn O Reilly Mahon

Structural/Civil Engineer & Assigned Certifier: Punch Consulting