Hutchinson Builders or more affectionately known as Hutchies, have capitalised on the building boom that is taking place in Brisbane, Australia. For the last few years, the skyline of Brisbane has been littered with tower cranes completing in this current round of high-rise construction.
On any given day, no matter which direction that you look, you can see multiple tower cranes. Back in 2016, I had the pleasure of working in Fortitude Valley. Standing on the roof, you could look North towards Newstead and count 16 cranes without moving.
How many tower cranes are there in Brisbane currently?
According to the RLB Crane Index for the 2nd Quarter of 2017, Brisbane has 81 tower cranes scattered across the skyline. Brisbane’s tower crane count is down from 2016 3rd Quarter of 104 tower cranes. The number of cranes in the sky is the largest number that Brisbane has seen.
There are a lot of other large builders in Brisbane contributing to the current shape of the skyline. Some of the notable large commercial builders include Brookfield Multiplex, Hindmarsh, Icon Co and Mirvac just listing a few. Then you have an absolute plethora of smaller commercial builders throwing up tower cranes all over the place, companies like Tomkins Commercial & Industrial Builders, Condev, Torre Developments and the list goes on and on.
Hutchinson Builders are everywhere around Brisbane
It’s not necessarily that Hutchies are the biggest or the best, they just happen to be the builder with their name everywhere. Travelling the streets of South Bank Parklands district, most of the construction site fencing has Hutchinson Builders banners wrapped around them.
Heading north, the density of cranes begins to lessen. However, the familiar blue and white cranes stand out from the rest. Mostly due to the fact they are the ones standing the tallest. One block in Newstead, Hutchies have had the luxury (or the nightmare) to have three high-rises as next door neighbours.
The boom in Brisbane caused an interesting event for all subcontractors and tradespeople. With the amount of work available, just about every subcontracting company and tradesperson were able to name their price. You would watch guys wheel their toolbox out of one job site head down the street and walk straight into the neighbouring project.
When a project’s timeline started to lag, finding additional site personnel was near impossible. Mostly, fancy reshuffling of site works was the only option available. Meeting the project’s timeline became an artform, not for the faint hearted.
As we head into the second half of 2017, it will be great to see the current high-rise boom continue; I guess time will tell how long this cycle has left.
I spent about a month in Bonn Germany and got to see a fair amount of the city. The city center is relatively small so walking around is a viable option. Being able to walk around was good as my German language speaking skills didn’t exist.
If you would like to find out about the city, I recommend checking out Wikipedia. And there is a good travel website Wikitravel which lists out all the places to visit, like Beethoven’s home.
As for this article, I have written a caption under each photo to give you an insight into my trip to ‘Bonn, Germany.’
Commercial construction in Nepal, in particular in Kathmandu & Pokhara is not that much different to that of Australia, well not at a fundamental level. All buildings start at the foundations, then the structure (framing) is built, and finally coming back down finishing the outside.
The building structures in Kathmandu & Pokhara are predominately concrete. The concrete structures are constructed the same as the rest of the world. There is steel reinforcing, formwork and so on, but there is where the difference start to show up. The biggest difference that stands out is the scaffolding.
From what I saw, there are some very real differences in the scaffolding between that of a first world country and Nepal. First thing is how bare the scaffolding structures are left once erected. Australia has restrict rules on scaffolding, for example, minimum working platform widths. Well as you can see in the below pictures places to work are tiny, if they exist at all.
What was evident as well was how scaffolding doesn’t seem to exist until the very last moment. You can see this in a few of the photos. Please enjoy the pictures and leave your comments below.
This week I have been to Berlin, Germany. I got off the train at Berlin Central. What I noticed most while walking to my hotel, was how much construction work there was taking place.
Getting off the train, you are meet by four construction sites in a row. One of which was beside a river partially flooded with water, I will talk about this later. Walking along the streets, I can’t help but notice the amount of tower crane’s in the sky. And the number of cranes being erected. The volume of construction sites that you had to walk past, I should say, the amount you had to walk under scaffolding, to get around was equally impressive.
The volume of cranes reminded me of Brisbane and the amount of construction work happening and the number of tower cranes in the skyline. On one of the last projects that I worked on in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, when standing on the roof, looking north in a short radius, you could count 16 tower cranes. If you looked around a full 360 degrees, you could count a total of 24 cranes. The project I was working on was only a couple of stories tall with most of the skyline blocked by other high rise buildings.
To walk into Berlin and see such a large volume of construction work going on was surprising. While walking around, there was a vast variety of different types of construction working happening. A new subway getting built (what I think was a new subway). Towers (high rises) going up everywhere. Building refurbishments, and minor works you could hear in the background when you walked past apratment buildings.
Berlin construction site
As I mentioned earlier, getting off the train, there was one construction site that gained my attention above all else. The site was on the river’s edge next to Berlins central train station. The first thing I noticed was the lack of secure fencing and hoarding (hoarding is non-see through or solid fence) around the construction site. You could just simply walk straight in off the street through holes in the fence that were not designated entry points.
Looking down into the construction site, they were digging out the basement. As you looked down, you could see how much water was in and around the work area. The water was up higher than what the guys were working. They had a couple of excavators down low, behind what looked like remnants of an old buildings basement. The old building remnants were all that held back the water. I was surprised to see this going on, back in Australia if you tried to do the same work below the water line, you would have a lot of explaining to do.
The piling rig that was doing the foundations was massive; the mast was around the 6-7 stories high. The footprint of the machine was comparable to a small one bedroom apartment. The photos do not do the piling machine’s size justice as you walk past and try to look up to the top of the mast.
There was one building in particular that caught my attention, which was the Berlin Cathedral. Some background information about the Cathedral, it had five architects working on it over its lifetime.
Martin Böhme (1717)
Johann Boumann, the Elder (1747-1750)
Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1817 & 1820-1822)
Julius & Otto Rashdorf, father, and son (1894-1905)
The first building built back in 1451, and oddly enough the second building which got completed in 1345 (I have no idea why). In 1750 the third building was completed, followed by the fourth building a century and a half later in 1905. After the war repairs had been completed, the building got inaugurated in 1993.
The highest part of the building is 115m. The part of the building that stands out the most is the gold on top of the spires. On a dark overcast winters day, these spires were bright and shiny.
Diffence in construction compared to Australia
There was a notable difference of the scaffolding setup on construction sites. In Australia, our scaffold has to have mesh and shade cloth around it to keep the dust and debris inside the building site. Here in Germany, the thing that I noticed was how much scaffolding didn’t have any mesh around it. There was nothing from what I could see; that would stop debris from falling off the sides. I do want to acknowledge there was hoarding (solid roof) over the footpaths to catch anything if it did fall. However, the hoarding didn’t stop debris from falling off the sides and out onto the roads. I noticed this on quite a few job sites I walked past.
The other thing that surprised me was how many construction sites had insecure site fencing. And how much see through fencing was around, allowing the public to see what was happening. Back home in Australia, if we have a job site where the fencing isn’t secure, and someone walks onto the construction site and gets hurt, we are in a world of trouble. I guess at some level; this demonstrates the culture of the German people’s respect for what is going on around them and what other people are up too.
Berlin has been a great city to visit, and casually wander around. I will certainly be back again.
A special thank you to GoEuro for organizing my transportation for this trip to Berlin. If you are planning a trip through Europe, check out their website at GoEuro.com for great transportation deals.
The Mt Everest Base Camp Trek has a great glimpse into the buildings of the Himalayas. The biggest thing to keep in mind when looking through the photos, all the building materials have been carried by hand. I mean, someone carried the building materials on their back for days to get them to construction site.