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05th May 2022

Behind the Hoardings - Good vibrations! 5th May 2022

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You may remember that the old soil at the site was ready for muck away when we last visited Project 22. This was completed soon after our 1st blog was posted.

With the reduced dig complete, the piling mat could be created. The piling mat is a working platform made of compacted crushed stone and concrete that allows the heavy site machinery (known as plant) to safely operate.

Once the piling mat is finished the piling can start, and with work now underway site manager Jacques was delighted that he could show us the process in action! The purpose of piling is to stabilise the ground in preparation for the foundations and construction itself to start. Neil and Rob from Van Elle kindly explained to us that the bulk of the 450 piles at the Abbey are made using the vibro pile process. 40mm shingle is poured into a 2.5 metre deep hole and compacted using a very large vibro hammer machine. In the harder ground a drilling machine is used to pre-drill the holes. Nearly 350 tonnes of shingle will be used in the piles, that’s as heavy as 3 blue whales!
Although you can slightly feel the ground vibrating during the piling process, one of its great advantages is that it is a very quick and effective way of making the ground stable. This means the students, staff and our neighbours are inconvenienced for as short a time as possible.

Project 22 will have a huge impact on the Abbey, WMAT and Surrey’s SEN provision for many years to come, but it is vital that the current students, staff and indeed all stakeholders are disrupted as little as possible during the new build. With that in mind the other significant development at the site is the removal of the old caretaker's bungalow and the creation of a temporary staff car park.

We are greatly looking forward to our next visit when work on the foundations will be well underway!

On their most recent visit to site Ben and Christian were accompanied for part of the time by Ethan (Year 7) who, although not permitted onto the site itself, was keen to learn more about the process from his vantage point through the viewing panels in the hoardings.

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