‘This methodology is rarely used in Europe’

Bernd Schönherr

‘On high-rise projects such the Zalmhaven in Rotterdam you’re unlikely to find many people with a fear of heights,’ says Bernd Schönherr. A specialist in high-rise construction, the Austrian-born project director is a perfect fit for this project with the tallest skyscraper in the Benelux. BAM is building the complex in Rotterdam’s former salmon port quarter for AM and Amvest. When completed, it will consist of one residential tower standing no less than 215 metres tall and two more, each reaching 70 metres.

A factory on table legs

Especially for the Zalmhaven project, BAM has developed its own hoisting shed. ‘This type of methodology is rarely used in Europe,’ says Bernd. ‘The hoisting shed is basically a factory on four “table legs”. Each time we start building the next higher floor, we jack the whole thing up another level.’

The shed is fitted with two overhead travelling cranes, one to transport materials and one to place prefab elements. ‘To save time, we’re using prefabrication as much as we can, which also means there are fewer logistic movements to and from the site and therefore less hindrance from traffic for the environment,’ explains Bernd.

Safe working environment

The hoisting shed provides a safe, conditioned environment that protects workers from the elements. ‘It has everything they need in a building site, including a place to eat and all the usual amenities. They go up in the morning, work there all day and don’t come down till they head home in the evening,’ says Bernd. ‘Our planning is based on a new floor every week, including the full structure and façade.’ To get people up another floor each week, BAM is building expanding elevator systems, which follow the pace of the tower’s construction.

Scalable learning

‘Asking for help is not something that comes naturally to builders. Even today, among the technical professions this is often felt as admitting to a lack of knowledge. But it’s wrong to thing like that. Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s a show of strength.’ Bernd is firmly convinced of this, and his thinking is in line with the BAM values. ‘Those four values are the foundation beneath our success a person as well as on the level of the project and the company. Scalable learning means asking for help and sharing experiences – the good ones as well as the bad. In the end we’re all the better for it.’