Blog: Project of the Year under £10m SECBE Awards 2019 finalist - Gravetye Manor Hotel

03 May 2019

sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

*** WINNER *** Gravetye Manor Hotel, West Hoathly - submitted by A&F Pilbeam Construction

The project appealed to A&F Pilbeam Construction, as it required innovation, excellent teamwork and ingenuity to provide solutions for completing the build. They managed every deadline and made sure the new restaurant could open on its 60th anniversary. This long established, respected Grade I listed country house hotel had built a reputation for its’ beautiful Grade II listed gardens and Michelin Star food. The existing restaurant had been growing in popularity and additional seating was desperately needed.

The architect’s brief was to develop a restaurant building with double the covers of the existing which would sit harmoniously and seamlessly within the context of the Manor. The client and architect required a high quality build, with attention to detail and a contractor who would join the design team to work in tandem with the client and consultants to achieve the vision of this project. The sympathetic design was successfully implemented during construction and now blends seamlessly with the grade 1 listed buildings and gardens.

Initially, their role was that of problem solving. How could they avoid high levels of vehicles arriving on-site? How could they construct the new restaurant without ruining the gardens which had been carefully established over many years? They worked hard to make sure every sub-contractor and supplier also believed in this problem-solving ethos, resulting in a successful project. The project was completed in just four months with 7-day working weeks and would have taken far longer without collaborative working practices and intense management of the design, logistics and the works.

The focus on collaboration in design and throughout the build was key. Problems were designed out by collaboration between the architect, contractor, sub-contractors and suppliers. Time-saving solutions, such as large crane and drop box, off-site manufacture, extended working hours (7-days per week plus some longer shifts effectively produced a further 6+ weeks of production within the programme), with sub-contractors providing their own expertise to assist in the progress of this project.

Significant achievements include the design concept in erecting this modern facility but blending it into the existing listed building adding to its’ appeal and quality, the innovation in the design and technical aspects of construction and buildability, and the logistics of constructing this facility in the short time frame.

Architects Charles Knowles book on the project.

“This is an exceptional scheme … To complete quality works such as this within four months is amazing … Traditional lead roofing work and battened maple ceiling is a fine example of good craftsmanship … this scheme was perfect, truly inspiring and at one with its spectacular setting … Not only a great piece of contemporary architecture, but also an enhancement to the original building and landscape” Judges, Mid Sussex Award


  • The new build was fully operational and catering to a full restaurant on day one after handover.
  • Strict deadlines were met through intense collaboration between all parties, including client.
  • Use of off-site production and pre-ordering from accurate drawings with construction issues designed out saved time and lessened weather reliance.

For more details:

Visit A&F Pilbeam Construction.

The SECBE 2019 Building Project of the Year under £10m Award is sponsored by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

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