Welsh castle infrastructure project up for national civil engineering gong

Thursday 17 November 2016

Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle

Back in the spotlight, the winning project of this year’s Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Wales Cymru’s Heritage Award winner, Harlech Castle Visitor Centre and Footbridge, is in the running to become the UK’s most popular civil engineering project.

Voting opens online today for the ICE People’s Choice Award, allowing everyone that uses infrastructure to shine a light on the UK’s greatest civil engineering achievements this year. Harlech Castle Visitor Centre and Footbridge is one of 12 nominated projects from across the UK and the public have until November 30 to decide their favourite. The winning infrastructure project will be announced in January 2017.

The project provides modern, energy efficient visitor facilities with public display and interpretation areas with easy access to the castle for the mobility impaired. The castle now offers an enhanced visitor experience and can cater for events within its grounds with level access and new services. The scheme will help to improve the area’s economy by attracting more visitors and offering new opportunities for local business.

Katalin Andrassi, Principal Engineer of the project, said: “The whole team is delighted that our project has been nominated for the inaugural People’s Choice Award. Creation of a world-class facility and attracting new visitors in greater numbers and encouraging them to stay longer to boost the local economy was a key part of the brief.”

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure in Wales, said: “We are overwhelmed with the result of the project. The new fully accessible ‘floating’ footbridge approaches the castle squarely, retracing the alignment of the original drawbridge and revealing views of the castle not experienced by visitors in living memory. During the early stages of construction underlying archaeology were discovered dating back to the 15th century. As part of Cadw’s commitment to public engagement an ‘open day’ was arranged with more than 400 people visiting to site to view what had been found.”

He continued: “The success of the project has made a positive impact on the town, attracting an additional 31,000 (39%) visitors in its first year of operation. A key deliverable had been accessibility — the provision of level access from car park to castle — whilst passing seamlessly through the new visitor centre, shop and café. Visitors also have the opportunity to stay in one of the five, individually designed, 4* apartments on the upper floors of the Victorian Building; each apartment having its own spectacular views. Discrete integration of the new mechanical & electrical services within the bridge structure has provided mains services within the Castle’s Inner Ward area for the first time — ever! This has facilitated the delivery of a much broader programme of events that are being enjoyed by both tourists and the wider community.”

Working in local communities throughout Wales and across the world, civil engineers are constantly finding new ways to provide practical solutions to society's everyday problems and propel nations into the future with new, ever-improving infrastructure.

Commenting, ICE Wales Cymru Director Keith Jones said: “Civil engineers create, maintain and operate almost everything between and under our homes. The infrastructure they build connects, nourishes and improves the lives of everyone it serves.

“Working on the frontline of civilisation, civil engineers are as indispensable to society as doctors, teachers, police and social workers. Imagine, for example, the Severn bridges, didn’t exist — journey times into Wales would be much longer and our economy would suffer. Without civil engineering billions of people around the world would be poorer, disparate and isolated — no train stations, airports, clean water, waste treatment, roads, internet or electricity. Farms would wither and businesses would go bust. Civil engineers also build the infrastructure which enhances our daily lives — theatres, sports stadiums and leisure facilities and provides access to our rich culture.

“This is a chance to celebrate civil engineers, who design and build infrastructure for the public and make a world of difference to local communities. Vote now for your favourite infrastructure project and help promote the overwhelmingly positive contribution of civil engineering to everyday life.”

Vote at www.ice.org.uk/PeoplesChoice and follow the conversation at #ICEPeoplesChoice

Every vote will be entered into a prize draw to win a cool Nikon Coolpix A10 camera. Voting closes at midnight on 30 November 2016.The Nikon camera winner will be notified on Friday 9 December 2016.