HMP Five Wells


Full Project Details

Modern methods of construction cuts one-fifth from prison programme.

Crown House Technologies’ experience of digital engineering combined with our manufacturing-led approach within the custodial sector supported client, Kier’s ambition to save time from the delivery programme of HMP Five Wells. 

Chris Downs, Project Director at Kier said: “At HMP Five Wells, the digital engineering provided by CHt allowed us to see that MEP assemblies were designed in the right way for the services to function, and demonstrating this via virtual reality ahead of the installation gave all parties this reassurance. Utilising offsite manufacture has significantly benefited the build programme, with the project being delivered 22% faster than traditional construction. Prefabricated MEP alone is saving 54,000 working hours on site and we are extremely proud of the integrated approach of MMC and digital at HMP Five Wells, which has been cited as a blueprint for future prison building.” 

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) awarded the £253m new build resettlement prison in Wellingborough to Kier in 2019; the first in a series of schemes to be undertaken as part of the MOJ’s New Prisons Programme. 

The aim of the programme is to reform and modernise the prison estate to provide safe, secure and decent prison places with a focus on supporting rehabilitation. A core feature is to optimise how the MoJ’s assets are designed, procured, delivered and operated, through a Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) or ‘platform’ approach. As project integrator, Kier is driving a manufacturing mindset for HMP Five Wells by bringing together a diverse team to deliver this component-led approach.

Power of Experience

We were appointed by Kier based on our previous experience of successful project delivery at HMP Berwyn in Wrexham, North Wales combined with our capabilities in delivering MEP components via a design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) approach. Our challenge was to make sure that the MEP fit-out kept pace with the rate of precast installation for the Houseblocks and CASU (Care and Separation Unit) being delivered by Kier’s main construction team at HMP Five Wells.

At the outset of the project, the team used digital engineering to show stakeholders how products like plantskids and roof modules would look before the designs were sent for precision manufacture, and delivery to site. 

Following the contracts being signed in September 2019, the stage 5 modelling of DfMA elements commenced immediately. By December 2019 the mockup riser had been built, with the first modules delivered to site in April 2020, and the final module delivered and lifted in November that same year.  

The quantity of roof modules, plant skids and houseblock risers, coupled with the fast track nature of the project, meant that the programme would not be achieved through a traditional solution. Working in close collaboration with Kier, we developed high quality and repeatable component assemblies through a DfMA approach.

To control quality, CHt implemented Dalux fieldBIM technology, enabling Kier to track the status of components and assemblies being produced for HMP Five Wells across 10 different manufacturing facilities throughout the UK, including our own CHt Manufacturing in Oldbury.

The experience and knowledge gained through the programme has helped CHt develop innovative new solutions and increase manufacturing efficiency at its MEP manufacturing facility at Oldbury in the West Midlands. At this factory, prefabricated MEP modules are designed and built to meet the specific requirements of individual clients and projects. As well as prisons, these include private buildings, hospitals, schools, science and research buildings. 

Martin Staehr, Business Unit Leader at CHt, believes there is clear evidence of the benefits of offsite manufacture of MEP components from the HMP Five Wells project, and explains: “The gains at HMP Five Wells are striking. Whilst labour hours for manufacture would be similar to onsite installation, the true gains are around production efficiencies. With the repeatability that is afforded by carbon copies of the prison Houseblocks we were seeing 20% improvements in output by the end of the production run.

“The main benefit comes in the onsite installation time.  Rather than waiting for the frame to complete before we start MEP fit out which could then last 6  to 12 weeks per area (riser, roof, plantroom); the work is done in advance and is 90% complete within days of the structure being available. This has seen us save more than 87,000 working hours on site during the course of the project. Added to that, you also have the quality, H&S, waste benefits from working in a factory environment.”

A number of project metrics have also been aided by our capabilities. With 54,192 metres of cabling being installed, 45,910 metres of pipework assembled and complete 2,145 metres of module framework. This has all been achieved with a 145-strong workforce consisting of 30 class 1 welders, 63 pipe fitters, 25 welders / fitters, six plumbers and six apprentices, two of which are apprentice World Skills UK Champions.