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Silvertown Tunnel London UK

Silvertown Tunnel
One of the largest engineering projects in the world.

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On 19th October 2023, ByrneLooby will rebrand to Ayesa

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UK Geotechnical Team of the Year Finalists - Silvertown Tunnel Team

UK Geotechnical Team of the Year Finalists - Silvertown Tunnel Team
  • The Silvertown Tunnel Geotechnical Team - Ayesa, Cowi & Riverlinx CJV have been shortlisted for the Ground Engineering Awards 2022 -  UK Geotechnical Team of the year

Award: This award is open to any multi-company collaborative project team involved in the UK geotechnical industry either on a specific project or as part of a framework on multiple projects. To be successful the project team should demonstrate the team culture which led to improved project delivery, the project team's mutual goals, and joint activities highlighting outstanding performance.

Project: The Silvertown Tunnel: 1.4km long twin bored road tunnel, under the River Thames connecting Silvertown to the North Greenwich Peninsula. The geotechnical design scope for the Silvertown Tunnel is broad and complex and includes the design of the bored tunnel completed by the COWI team, while shafts, cut and cover design were managed by Ayesa, as well as damage assessment, instrumentation, and monitoring.

Collaboration & Co-operation between COWI and Ayesa: While there was no contractual obligation for the two consultancies to work together, project leads identified early on, that shared interfaces across both design scopes meant that value and efficiencies could be found through collaboration and shared team knowledge and skillsets. At the start, the project teams met face-to-face at the client's office in London. But then, when COVID restrictions hit, communication had to move quickly to digital with virtual meetings and secure file-sharing platforms to support collaborative working.

silvertown-tunnel-greenwich-portal-e1559205531481-1920x931-1280x720-2  Silvertown Tunnel London UK

Our collaboration and shared knowledge benefitted the project in the following ways:

  • By nurturing a strong working relationship and encouraging collaboration, the project team of COWI and Ayesa made workflows more efficient. We assessed individuals’ strengths and assigned tasks based on experience and knowledge: for example, our younger engineers concentrated on working together to develop models and coordinate shared inputs. Senior colleagues with more experience oversaw the strategy for the design and during the process, shaped and optimized the solution. Our agreement on common procedures/tasks reduced the time spent on reviews making it easier for the client to validate our design methodologies, which had already been discussed and polished by the agreement of the shared teams which ultimately reduced client costs.
  • When the pandemic hit, ground investigations were delayed, but by COWI and Ayesa working together, we devised design programmes that understand the constraints of each other’s design and we suggested ways to make sure the overall project programme was not delayed.
  • Design interfaces included the portal ground treatments, where ground treatment needed to facilitate TBM launch and reception needed to be designed taking account of the portal structure design, and vice versa. These designs were developed in parallel, and due to our excellent working relationship, we were able to optimise the design by finding benefits in each other’s project work. For example, we took advantage of the ground treatment to optimise the design of the chamber walls.

    Robert Sizer, Project Lead and Geotechnical Head of section at Ayesa commented about this collaboration: "We worked collaboratively on a number of damage assessments, exploring the range of options available to us for each, and developed appropriate strategies for each asset depending on the complexity and level of risk. These included a DLR viaduct crossing the cut and cover work, for which Ayesa were assessing the foundation movements and COWI the superstructure. This involved a complex series of analyses incorporating ground movements due to dewatering, excavation and construction, requiring close collaboration to combine the various different models and understand the impact of those movements at different stages of the project.
    We worked together to understand the interaction between various models, and refine assessments where critical aspects of behaviour were identified, and also to look at potential mitigations where needed."


Ultimately the relationship between Ayesa and COWI has resulted in an optimised design for our client, delivered in a timely manner despite the pandemic. Our success is due to a culture of technical excellence in both COWI and Ayesa, which gave us a common goal to strive for.  But is also due to the hard work and dedication of the individuals in the team who have worked together across continents, language barriers, time zones and a pandemic, building mutual understanding and trust to achieve the best results for our client.


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