On Wednesday 5 September the BBC broadcast the first of a two-part series that observed Nick Knowles and his DIY SOS team undertake the biggest challenge in the show’s 15-year history.
The popular TV show committed to running a nine-month project to build a new gym for Dale Youth Boxing Club and a community centre for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. The build would occupy 750 square metres of disused land under a motorway in North Kensington.
EVS was approached to be part of this mammoth project that would help to revive the community’s spirits after the Grenfell tragedy. Without hesitation the EVS team committed.
The Story Behind the DIY SOS Big Build
It was one of the saddest and most horrifying fires to take hold in modern day London. The Grenfell Tower fire took place on Friday 14 July 2017 and claimed the lives of 72 people, and left others seriously injured. Needless to say, the fire’s aftermath left the community in utter despair.
Not only were lives and homes destroyed in the Grenfell Tower fire, but so were community spaces, including the World Class Dale Youth Boxing Club. Once residing on the second floor of Grenfell Tower in a brand-new gym for only 6-7 weeks prior to the travesty, Dale Youth was proving a popular haunt for the young people of the Grenfell community.
After the fire, founder of Dale Youth – Mick Delaney – was determined to keep the club open and continued to run training sessions in temporary gyms, parks and a cold multi-storey car park, which was a frequent hangout for drunks. Clearly this was not the ideal space for a club that encourages health and a safe lifestyle away from the streets.
A new home for Dale Youth was a must, so the BBC DIY SOS production team committed to their biggest challenge yet.
Like all DIY SOS projects the production team were reliant on the generosity of local suppliers and tradesmen to give up time and resources in order to complete the Grenfell community project.
The BBC DIY SOS production team initially contacted Lindab, a company that produces HVAC products and systems for the construction industry. Lindab supplied thousands of pounds worth of ventilation components, including the grilles, fire dampers and spiral ductwork for this big build.
Knowing its reputation for an exceptional standard of installation, Lindab recommended EVS to the BBC production team to install the exposed fresh air and extraction system. Without doubt EVS agreed and the partnership was formed.
Working closely with the show’s designers and construction team directly, EVS determined the ductwork routes and layouts throughout the gym, office, toilets and changing rooms. The team also manufactured and installed the rectangular ductwork. Combined, the HVAC components served a common air handling unit, which was supplied and installed by the manufacturer.
Exposed Ductwork Compliments Industrial Design Theme
The show’s interior designer, Gabrielle Blackman developed an industrial design scheme for Dale Youth Boxing Club. A major feature within the design was the polished exposed ductwork, which has become somewhat of a speciality for EVS.
Having installed exposed ductwork for similar projects of this design nature, EVS is accustomed to installing polished exposed ductwork for design purposes in restaurants, hotels and for retailers across London.
The key to achieving this industrial look is within the installation. The layout and design of the ductwork needs to be well planned and considered to achieve a high-end look. Unlike other projects of this nature, time was limited, and the ductwork installation had to be complete within just x days.
To help meet their deadline EVS called upon the support of local engineers for the installation. Thanks to this added help, EVS was able to complete the ductwork installation within record time and to its usual high standard.
A Royal Visit
During the filming of the show, the Duke of Cambridge donned his hard hat, hi vis and even did a spot of painting on the construction site. He met with the labourers, who had given up their time to support this community project.
Upon completion of the DIY SOS Grenfell Tower Build, Managing Director of EVS, Justin Blue commented, “EVS was delighted to be involved in such a lifechanging project. As soon as we were approached to take part, it was a resounding YES!
“No one could decline supporting such a valued project that will go on to shape the Grenfell community is such a positive manor for years to come.
“We hope that the Dale Youth Boxing Club continues to prosper and recover from the tragedy that they have experienced. It is a great place for young people to escape from the pressures of inner-city life and enjoy being a community once again.
“Our sincere thoughts and good wishes go to those that have suffered the loss of a loved one and those that have been deeply affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.”