Report from a construction pit
It started in October last year, when the symbolic first shovelful of earth was lifted at Linköping University’s Faculty of Health Sciences. Now the excavating machines have done the rest. In one year a completely new student building will have risen out of what is now a two-storey construction pit.
In almost exactly one year, Building 511 will be finished. By way of a glazed roof it will be connected to Building 001, which will be renovated. The new building will house offices, student spaces such as lecture theatres, case rooms, group rooms, student kitchens and student services. It will add vitality and focus to the campus area around the student union building Örat.
But this is difficult to envisage right now. At the moment, the vitality comes from the construction vehicles and workers who are preparing the building’s foundation in the two-storey deep construction pit.
”There’s been blasting for a few months over the past winter, as the new building is on the top of a rocky outcropping and it has to be excavated two storeys,” says Iréne Rydberg, faculty coordinator at the Faculty of Health Sciences.
It looks deep, especially when you see the exterior and foundations of the old building, number 001, which became visible after the blasting.
”You really have to take care when blasting so close to an existing building. We had to take action to secure measuring instruments and other sensitive research equipment in the surrounding buildings, to dampen the vibrations from the blasting. This was done by a company that specialises in this type of work,” Ms Nyberg adds.
That company has had a lot on its plate. All across the University Hospital, building and blasting is underway, and construction vehicles are frequently on the move around the site. The university’s operations are greatly affected, because research and teaching is conducted almost everywhere at the hospital.
”We’re constantly faced with urgent problems that require quick decisions. Like when the electrical cable for Hälsans Hus was severed during excavation and the whole building was thrown into darkness, or when lecture theatres must be closed and we need to quickly find new ones. On occasion we have even had to stop construction. You can’t have people cutting concrete while someone defending their doctoral thesis in the next room.”
This major construction project requires a good deal of collaboration between the various operations located on the hospital’s limited space. In addition to the hospital’s healthcare-related operations and the university’s teaching and research, roughly 700 people are employed in the construction at the site. The limited space means people have to compromise. Patients have to be shifted to temporary locations for longer or shorter periods – a huge logistics puzzle.
A strike could have delayed the project, as Building 511 would have been affected, but the strike was called off. Now construction is proceeding according to schedule, even though it got started a few months late as the procurement was appealed.
”But there are constantly things happening that affect construction. New professors are employed, the organisation is changed. For instance we now have a new IT organisation and the new Didacticum Centre,” says Ms Rydberg.
Linköping University will also use a large part of Building 448, (right), one of the four building sections being constructed adjacent to the hospital’s main block. One level down will be a lecture theatre seating 130, a case room for 80 people, classrooms, five group rooms and a student kitchen. This building will be the hospital’s north entrance.
”Our spaces will be ready in autumn 2015, but the entrance won’t be completed until January 2016. Then we’ll be able to start using it all.”
Spencer Finch, a New York-based artist, has been commissioned for an artwork on Building 511. There will be two layers of glass in the façade, with lighting that picks up the rust-coloured tones of the hospital’s oldest building (from the mid 19th century), located very close to Building 511 (right).
The new building will be inspected in April 2014. Have you started planning the opening ceremony?
”No, not yet – but there’s no doubt, this building deserves a special opening!”
Photo: Iréne Rydberg
Work underway at university hospital
Last updated: 2014-06-04