Whiteleys Centre

How Laing O’Rourke is protecting historic Grade II-listed assets on a £1billion redevelopment using data powered visualisations, so it can build smarter, faster and safer  
The challenge 

The 1911 Whiteleys building in Queensway, London is a globally recognised cultural landmark. It is now being redeveloped from a shopping centre into 139 residences, 20 new shops, cafes and restaurants, a central public courtyard, a cinema, a gym and flagship Six Senses hotel and spa. 

All of this is set within a four-storey Grade II-listed facade, which is to be restored, but needs to be protected and conserved. Furthermore, the site sits within a Conservation Area and the iconic central dome of the building, designed in 1911, will be retained. Heritage groups were firm about preserving the site’s historical integrity and local parties wanted to avoid the risk of basement construction causing subsidence to neighbouring buildings. 

Laing O’Rourke’s geotechnical and surveying team worked to ensure that there was no unwarranted movement to the surrounding structures. They worked across several asset protection projects at once, and needed to monitor the overall site for different movements in a smart way to: 

  • maintain structural integrity and heritage 
  • maintain a safe work site and public surrounding  
  • avoid costs from urgent unplanned works 
  • avoid disruption to the normal operation of nearby buildings 
  • avoid wasting valuable engineering resource 


The solution 

The BKwai platform empowered Laing O’Rourke’s engineers with intelligent insights from sensor and environmental data, so they could form a detailed and accurate understanding of the current condition of the facade and the surrounding buildings.  

Instead of having to rely manually plotted graphs using hundreds of sensors and manual survey points, engineers could access data-powered visualisations and insights that allowed them to precisely interrogate what was happening on the site. Constant monitoring allowed engineers to see how site activities were impacting the condition of monitored structures. They could spot on-site issues before they arose and needed to be repaired, as well as ensuring compliance. 

The sensor data showed how long-term, weekly and daily construction was affecting the structure, by mapping movement and settlement against activities and warning thresholds. Early detection allowed early intervention, so serious damage could be prevented and thus reduce costs of unplanned emergency works. The platform visualised how the structures were changing over time, so engineers could predict how they would behave in the future. 


Even the slightest movement is detected quickly, long before it would be spotted otherwise, helping Laing O’Rourke protect the historic facade and surrounding buildings. With the BKwai platform, Laing O’Rourke is able to: 

 1. Generate cost savings, efficiencies and increase worker safety by reducing the need for unnecessary on-site inspections and surveys

2. Better utilise valuable engineering resource by automating the rapid consolidation of large volumes of data into intelligent insights  

3. Avoid disruption and delay to the normal operation of the construction site by reducing the need for unexpected surveys or urgent unplanned works 

4. Reduce unwanted collateral damage and provide evidence of compliance with planning conditions 

Protecting the Whiteley’s historic facade and the surrounding buildings was a complex construction and engineering project.  The BKwai platform has helped us reduce costs, better understand and manage our risks, so that engineers like me can use our time more productively.’ 

 – Instrumentation and Monitoring Engineer at Laing O’Rourke