The challenge was set by IQE, World leaders in compound semiconductor wafer products, in December 2016. Atkins were tasked with delivering a £39.7m construction project from inception to handover within 2 years.
The location of the project was the old LG Packaging and Testing Building on Celtic Way, Newport; a Welsh Government owned building that has stood empty since 1996. On a bleak January morning, with no existing incoming services to the site, repairs required to the façade and minimal record information, the team set about the challenge of converting the building from an empty shell into a world class compound semiconductor production facility. Describing the project, Economy Secretary Ken Skates said; “With the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster located here in South East Wales, we are punching well above our weight in developing technology which not only plays an increasingly vital role in the way we live our lives today but will drive innovation which will shape the world we live in tomorrow”
To maintain the programmed completion date set by IQE, the team had to overcome many challenges which included achieving planning permission inside 12 weeks from appointment. This was only made possible by completion of the multi-disciplinary design to RIBA Stage 3 in the same timeframe, an extraordinary result considering the number of disciplines involved; from acousticians to ecologists and architects to process engineers. Further challenges included assisting IQE in securing City Deal funding, environmental permitting constraints, restrictions in availability of local utilities and long lead items.