Move over Banksy: Willmott Dixon art captures site life

4 February 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: Lynne Chapman

Willmott Dixon has used the skills of a professional illustrator to promote life in the construction industry, in a joint project with the University of York.

Artist Lynne Chapman shadowed senior building manager Joshua Heavens on the £40m Rochdale Riverside retail and leisure development.

The sketches, commissioned by the university’s department of sociology, aim to capture the human stories and behaviours on site.

Image: Lynne Chapman

Willmott Dixon said they showed what it was really like to work on a construction project and help to dispel the myths about construction roles.

The illustrations were part of the department’s ‘Buildings in the Making’ research project led by Sarah Nettleton, Daryl Martin and Chrissy Buse, exploring the creation of buildings which are truly fit for purpose and the how buildings people live and work in make them feel. The project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Their findings call for greater collaboration between all construction project partners and a better shared understanding of the visions and values of the communities and users that will live and work in developments.

Image: Lynne Chapman

Having previously completed ‘a Day in the Life of an Architect’, the university wanted to follow the life of a construction build manager on a major northern project.

Chapman focused on the ways the team interacted, their behaviours, decision making, social interaction and emotions.

Heavens said: “I didn’t know what to expect but the way Lynne captured our emotions from our interactions and what she took from what we were doing and saying was so interesting. I’m really impressed and really enjoyed it. It is a great way to show a different side to construction and further promote the great careers our industry has to offer!”

Anthony Dillon, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the North added: “It’s part of our belief that we have a purpose beyond profit - that the energy, passion and commitment of our people can strengthen the well-being of society beyond the buildings we create.

“We’re proud to support the University of York’s research. We agree with their finding that a shared sense of vision and values right across the project team is critical to leaving a legacy beyond bricks and mortar in the communities in which we work.”

The sketches will be proudly displayed with the University of York’s 'Buildings in the Making' research.


I'm delighted that the team at Willmott Dixon enjoyed the experience. I found the day fascinating and am in awe at the amount of work the Construction Manager has to coordinate. Thank you for letting myself and the York Uni researcher shadow your day!

Lynne Chapman, 8 February 2019

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