Project outline

In recognition of the strong, positive relationship with the client, Hill and Peabody, Murphy Ground Engineering (MGE) was invited to undertake the piling element of the creation of the new 'Fish Island Village' in Tower Hamlets.

The Tower Hamlets area, though once largely industrial, has since undergone major regeneration. The aim of the project was to create one, two and three bedroom properties by the island’s canal which give an architectural nod to the industrial heritage of the site.  

Specifically, MGE was tasked with producing a value engineered solution for the entire project which could help reduce overall programme duration and cost.

Over the course of their time on the project the team constructed 1337 CFA bearing piles, including three tower crane bases, over a period  of six months. The piles ranged in diameter from 350mm to 600mm.

Project delivery and innovations:

Despite being the subcontractor on the scheme Murphy managed to reduce both cost and duration at the front end of the  project. This was accomplished by using a lower factor of safety, which the client was confident in using after the preliminary pile test which tested to 250% of the working load. 

Whilst the preliminary load test was being carried out the team continued piling work at the higher factor of safety initially agreed – reducing any lost unproductive time. 

A CFA piling technique was used, with two rigs operating at the same time throughout different stages of the project. The rigs worked simultaneously, allowing for even further reductions in the programme time. 

Murphy’s in-house design team worked on the project, creating pile designs and used early contractor involvement to provide value engineering solutions that reduced the project cost and duration. This included adjustments to the pile length due to the reduction in the chosen factor of safety. This contributed to the overall reduction of costs to the project. 

This was possible due to the design team’s extensive knowledge and  experience on similar projects. 

Murphy took part in regular meetings between Hill and Corbyn (who were  also working on the site) to make sure the project was managed efficiently and safely between various sub-contractors.    

The site team prefabricated steel reinforcement at Murphy’s workshop for  the crane base piles. This removed the need for heavy manual handling  and the use of large reinforcing bars. 

Key challenges

Varying ground conditions and the confined urban environment were the key challenges on this project and thanks to the team’s collective expertise and experience MGE had the ability to overcome these obstacles.  

Faced with challenging ground conditions and varying changes of strata depths in several locations/boreholes, MGE decided to map each borehole across the scheme and apply different design approaches for each location dependent on this mapping data. 

Key facts
  • Murphy design changes led to programme savings of approximately 3 Weeks  
  • Provided 1337 CFA bearing piles 350mm – 600mm in diameter and up to 25m deep 
  • Murphy oversaw design, construction and testing of the piling 
  • Testing included Preliminary, Static Load and Integrity tests 
  • Excellence in delivery within an urban environment 
  • Good collaboration throughout project with regular catch-ups with the client leading to an effective partnership in delivery. 
  • Delivered on time and to budget 


Fish Island Concept Image

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The Ground Engineering team at Murphy offers in-house pile design, value engineering and bespoke technical solutions throughout the UK and Ireland. We have a proven track record of successfully delivering both minor and major works across a range of sectors.

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