December 6, 2023

Pathology – Unveiled!

Its always a proud moment for us to reveal a final result. Pathology Lab for University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust is complete! Thank you to all who collaborated, safe to say it is a job well done.

Currie & Brown
Ansell + Bailey Ltd Chartered Architects
RSP (The Richard Stephens Partnership Limited)
Amiri Construction
University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

August 3, 2023

What is RAAC and Why is Everyone Talking About it?

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) has been used in building structures in the UK and Europe since the late 1950s, most commonly in flat roof construction but occasionally in pitched roofs, floors and wall panels in both loadbearing and non-loadbearing arrangements. They were produced in a controlled factory environment and supplied as precast elements.

RAAC differs from traditional concrete insofar as it has no coarse aggregate being formed from a cementitious mortar which is aerated (think of a ‘Aero’ chocolate bar), so is lighter than ‘normal’ concrete. It bears a resemblance to Aerated Concrete building blocks such as Celcon or Durox.

RAAC Panels are distinguishable from traditional reinforced concrete members in a number of ways. The Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) material being aerated has the benefit of being considerably lighter than traditional concrete. Typically, AAC has a density of 600-800kg/m³ compared to 2400kg/m³ for traditional concrete. This aerated nature and reduced density results in reduced compressive strength (2-5N/mm2), increased permeability and increased creep leading to unfavourable deflections in the long term.

Potential Risks of RAAC Panels

In the 1990s structural deficiencies with the material became apparent, the products being the subject of several reports published by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and in May 2019 the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS) issued an alert after being notified of the failure of roof panels in a school. The alert showed some visual evidence of a shear failure close to the support of the RAAC panels. This failure mode was different from those discussed in earlier BRE papers and the failure suggested that there may be a risk of sudden structural failure of RAAC panels.

The SCOSS alert and previous BRE papers indicated that the following key defects in RAAC panels can include;

Manufacturing Defects

Construction Defects

Performance Defects

·         Misplaced transverse reinforcement

·         Insufficient anchorage of longitudinal steel

·         Voidage around reinforcement

·         Incorrect cover to tension steel

·         Cutting of panels post manufacture

·         Short bearing lengths

·         Missing reinforcement e.g linking dowel anchorage

·         Structurally damaging builders work

·         High in-service deflections

·         Cracking and spalling in the sofit of panels

·         Corrosion of reinforcement

·         Deterioration in condition

·         Panel distress caused by overloading

·         Panels acting independently with limited load sharing

It is clear that all of the above defects can be an early warning of, or lead to, structural collapse.

The failure mechanism is often triggered by water ingress from, for example, a leaking flat roof, which can lead to degradation of the RAAC and corrosion of the embedded reinforcing.

It is therefore vital that all asset owners and stakeholders are aware of the potential risks associated with RAAC units and allow for regular inspection and, if necessary, remedial works should any be present within their estate.

Remediation Techniques

It is vital that structurally deficient RAAC elements (primarily planks) are remediated to ensure structural robustness and a safe environment for all building occupants.

Once the presence of RAAC elements has been established, condition surveys should be conducted by a suitably qualified Structural Engineer, allowing for the assessment of all RAAC elements within a building. Depending on the findings of the condition surveys, the Structural Engineer may recommend further monitoring inspections, remediation, strengthening or replacement of RAAC panels. These can include:

  • Emergency propping when panels are deemed to be in a severe condition.
  • Enhanced end bearing, to mitigate against known deficiencies or unknown/unproven end bearing conditions.
  • Positive remedial supports, to actively take the loading from the panels.
  • Passive, fail safe supports, to mitigate catastrophic failure of the panels if a panel was to fail.
  • Removal of individual panels and replacement with an alternative lightweight solution.
  • Entire roof replacement to remove the ongoing management liabilities.
  • Periodic monitoring of the panels for their remaining service life.

AKSWard has been instructed to conduct condition surveys within buildings where RAAC elements have been identified and have provided remediation solutions to ensure that our clients and their occupants are kept safe from potential structural failure.

What action should you take?

It is now understood that RAAC planks were widely used in Schools and Hospitals and the first course of action is to undertake a document search followed by a visual inspection to establish if the units are present.

If you suspect or have concerns that your buildings may have RAAC elements then please do contact AKSWard so that we can carry out an initial risk assessment and if necessary offer advice on monitoring or remedial solutions.


London Office: 020 7236 0161,

Steve Gibbs & Matt Walker


Oxford Office: 01865 240 071,

Paul Morgan


Southampton Office: 02380 235 340,

John Dunford


June 12, 2023

Away Day 2023

Another summer, another AKSWard Awayday!

For this years event we packed the team with sweet & savory treats for breakfast (and lots of coffee), before enjoying a competitive Table Tennis tournament, alongside a personalized “How Well Do You Know The Team?” quiz hosted by Maygen our Marketing Support, at our London Office on Friday.

Congratulations team ‘Dig It‘ a.k.a John. W, Andrew, Matt, Byron and Ahmed for winning with an impressive 52/61 points!

After all the activities we headed down to Bankside for some much deserved dinner, where we ate good food along the Thames in the sun.

We believe it so important to treat your staff for all their hard work, passion and commitment to our projects. After all, what does team work make? *whispers* The dream work! Thank you to all that came and joined together. It’s important getting everyone together in person.

April 5, 2023


Aaand that’s a wrap! The 2023 CIVIC TRUST AWARDS winners and highly commended have been announced! AKSWard Limited’s Director David Perkins and Regional Director John Dunford joined Morgan Sindall Group plc, Design Engine Architects, Michael Grubb Studios and Arts University Bournemouth in a wonderful evening at the awards ceremony in London on Friday night.

We here at AKSWard are very humbled and proud to see three of our projects win a total of four awards!

1. St Paul’s Cathedral Equal Access project (p.38) Winner
2. Arts University Bournemouth Student Accommodation (p.45) Highly Commended
3. and the Catherine Hughes Building (p. 49) Highly Commended
4. Furthermore, St Paul’s Cathedral Equal Access (p. 80) is also the winner of the 2023 Selwyn Goldsmith Awards for Universal Design – which recognizes schemes that are responsive, flexible, welcoming, easy to use and occupy; allowing all to use with dignity and equality. Putting people at the heart of the project and showing exemplar design.

Huge congratulations to our team, associates and fellow winners. It is a real pleasure seeing everybody’s hard work and passion recognized.

(Click the link to view the full list of Civic Trust Awards 2023 Winners & Highly Commended –

St Paul’s Cathedral:
Stonewest Ltd

Catherine Hughes Building:
Ridge and Partners LLP

AUB Student Accommodation:
Morgan Sindall Group plc
Design Engine Architects


April 5, 2023

The Landscape Institute Award for Excellence

Happy to announce Oxhey Activity Park, Watford, has won The Landscape Institute Award for Excellence in Public Health & Wellbeing 2021.

Always a pleasure enhancing a community and helping to provide a safe space for all people to have fun and enjoy the outside! to find out more about what the Activity Park has to offer, visit their website. if you want to see the park in action, watch this short clip by Take Action Media.


February 13, 2023

National Apprentice Week 2023

To celebrate #nationalapprenticeshipweek we’d like to turn the spotlight onto our very own Max Waddup!

“An apprenticeship is a great way of learning, while demonstrating classroom activities in the real working environment and learning valuable industry skills. That’s why I decided to embark on this journey of becoming a Civil Engineer. Whilst being at AKSWard I have learnt a lot of from my colleagues who have shown me many vital skills such as drafting on Auto-Cad. A typical day in the life of Max as a Civil Engineering Apprentice looks like; get into the office around 8:30am to then be greeted by my friendly fellow colleagues, then sit down at my desk with a hot cup of coffee whilst talking about what I got up to at college the day before, then swivel around and log in to excitedly see what the day will bring me. This can range from amending various drawings from colleagues throughout the company, creating preliminary drainage designs with guidance, creating external finished drawings, calculating gradients and levels ready for checking, gathering drawings and creating a pack to then send of to the clients. I am eager to expand my knowledge further and refine my skills to be a fully qualified Civil Engineer. This apprenticeship has shown the career path I want to take, it’s nice to see what I will become in a few years!” – Max Waddup, Civil Engineering Apprentice at AKSWard.

Overseeing Max and our Oxford office is one of our Operations Directors – Paul Morgan.
“AKSWard as a company has always looked to develop and nurture our younger members of staff allowing them to become the best they can. We have a large number of staff who started with us at junior levels and have risen through the ranks. We understand that not everyone wants to head off to University and know that there is more than one route for those looking for a career within our industry. We knew that apprenticeships are a great route for us. We teamed up with New College Swindon to recruit an apprentice via their Civil Engineering Technician Level 3 course to join our civils group. Good civils engineers can be hard to come by, so we are training our own by taking on an individual who does not yet have any bad habits! We made the decision at the outset to focus on finding the right candidate for our team. We were hoping to find someone keen to learn and develop, someone with that “something about them” which makes it easy to get them involved. That is what we saw in Max when we first interviewed him and I’m glad to say we have not been disappointed. Max has started his life with us at AKSWard brilliantly. He has fitted straight in and instantly become a good fit in our team. He is asking all the right questions and is a fast learner, what more could we ask? So far our apprenticeship journey is proving a success and as a business we are keen to bring in more like minded individuals through apprenticeships across our offices and across our different disciplines”.


February 9, 2023

NSC Magazine Article: Top Marks for Steel

We are elated to see our work showcased in the latest NSC Magazine’s “Projects and Features” section for our work at London Academy Highgate Hill. To read the full article please follow this link

“Some flexibility has been designed into the building as the main hall and dining area can used as one large space, or separated via a folding partition,” says AKSWard Senior Engineer Freya Berkin.

“To create a seamless link between the two areas, without any columns, a storey-high truss, positioned at first floor level, supports columns at second and third floor.”

The 16.6m-long × 4.2m-deep truss was too deep to be maneuvered into the site, and so it had to be delivered in nine pieces. It was then assembled on the ground before being installed by the 100t-capacity crane.

Wrapped around the double-height main hall, and taking into account that half of the area above the dining room is an outdoor plant deck, the first floor has a smaller footprint than the ground floor. First floor accommodates two classrooms, a staff room, IT hub, storage areas and a double-height drama studio.

The majority of the steel frame for the upper floors is based around a 7.6m × 7.8m column grid pattern, but as the drama studio is slightly larger, its roof – at third floor level – is formed with a couple of Westok beams that act as transfer structures by supporting columns that are only present on the uppermost level.

The second and third floors have six and seven rooms respectively. The former has access to an outdoor terrace positioned above part of the main hall, while the latter will be used mainly by the sixth form.

The new school building is due to be ready for teachers and pupils in time for the 2023 Autumn term.

January 12, 2023

Civic Trust Awards National & International Winners 2023!

We are delighted to see a brilliant start to the year already as all three of our nominated projects have been named the 2023 Civic Trust Awards National & International Winners. These are schemes which demonstrate excellence in architecture or design, whilst being sustainable, accessible and provide a positive civic contribution. Projects will receive an Award or be Highly Commended at the Awards Ceremony in March 2023! Our selected projects are;

St Paul’s Cathedral Equal Access project,

Arts University Bournemouth Student Accommodation

and the Catherine Hughes Building

Furthermore, St Paul’s Cathedral Equal Access project is one of only three projects to either receive an Award or be Highly Commended at the 2023 Selwyn Goldsmith Awards for Universal Design National Winners – which recognizes schemes that are responsive, flexible, welcoming, easy to use and occupy; allowing all to use with dignity and equality. Putting people at the heart of the project and showing exemplar design.

Click the link to view the full list of Civic Trust Awards 2023 Winners –

Huge congratulations to our team, associates and fellow winners.


January 4, 2023

Civic Trust Awards 2023: Regional Finalists

Happy New Year all!

The end of another great year, here at AKSWard we are extra proud to announce that not one but three (!) of our projects have qualified for for the 2023 CIVIC TRUST AWARDS: Regional Finalists. These are St Paul’s Cathedral Equal Access project, Arts University Bournemouth Student Accommodation and the Catherine Hughes Building.

As well as this, St Paul’s Cathedral Equal Access project has also got to the 2023 Selwyn Goldsmith Awards for University Design: Regional Finalists! “The Selwyn Goldsmith Awards seek to promote and applaud places that are responsive, flexible, welcoming, easy to use and occupy; allowing all to use with dignity and equality.”

Click the link to visit the Civic Trust Awards website and find out more –

Congratulations to our team, associates and fellow nominees. We are excited to see what 2023 brings!

St Paul’s Cathedral:
Caroe Architecture
Stonewest Ltd

Catherine Hughes Building:
Ridge and Partners LLP

AUB Student Accommodation:
Morgan Sindall Group plc
Design Engine Architects



November 12, 2022

RICS Regional Winner of the UK Awards 2022

Another fantastic achievement has been made here at AKSWard, as our project St Paul’s Cathedral, Equal Access Project in London has won Regional Winner for the RICS UK Awards 2022 in the Heritage category! Very proud to enable a winder audience to access this historical landmark. Always a pleasure working alongside Caroe Architecture and Stonewest Ltd Here is a link to RICS YouTube channel where you can find the full list of Winners –

RICS Website –

London – St Paul’s Cathedral, Equal Access Project nominated by Caroe Architecture Ltd 

“The Equal Access Project at St Paul’s Cathedral provides step free access into Sir Christopher Wren’s iconic building for the first time in its 300 year history; two new sinusoidal stone ramps either side of a central staircase to the North Transept door provide a dignified and accessible welcome to all. Providing the dignity of equal access by a thoughtful and innovative design, this project demonstrates an exemplar of access standards in heritage settings. As lead consultant, Caroe Architecture Ltd are submitting this nomination on behalf of the whole team who worked together to successfully complete this project.” 

RICS-Logo | Quatrefoils