First office announced for new engineering practice – with a difference

L-R: Raj Somal and Wayne Oakes.

The current perception of engineering is that of a traditional industry; engineers with their heads buried in squared paper and visiting building sites in garish, yellow hard hats. But, in reality, it is a sector which is rapidly developing to meet the evolving requirements of clients, updates in technology, environmental changes and social factors; and a new, Nottingham practice plans on proving this.

Dice was set up less than 12 months ago and has recently moved into its first office. As the anchor tenant at Works Social – Nottingham’s newest co-working space – directors, Wayne Oakes and Raj Somal, now have big plans for the future of the business.

“We’re delighted to now be in our first office in the Lace Market. We’ve always worked in Nottingham and Works Social is the perfect base for us – it’s a totally new concept for Nottingham; a dynamic, flexible space which suits us perfectly,” said Wayne.

The East Midlands-based pair had always worked for large, established civil and structural engineering firms but had a firm belief that they could bring something different to the industry.

Wayne added: “Raj and I have worked together for a number of years and, during this time, we’ve learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

“When we set up Dice, we knew we wanted to create a business that was honest and operated with integrity above all else – with customer service being at the heart of everything we do.”

The duo have already developed an impressive portfolio, completing a range of services nationwide for PureGym, as well as working with Co-Op during its UK-wide store improvement programme and rationalisation of its existing stores. They are also involved in the new student residential development on Derby Road and a significant, new sustainable housing development in Nottinghamshire.

Wayne continued: “Sustainability is now more important than ever and goes beyond token gestures such as the installation of solar panels. There’s so much more potential with sustainable design now, which encompasses far more than just energy saving techniques.

“We have a holistic approach to environmentally-sustainable designs, considering every facet of the environment, and actively look to incorporate at least one element of sustainability into every project we’re involved in. From Bee Bricks – designed to accommodate bees’ habitats inside bricks – to attenuation tanks made from soya beans, we want to push the boundaries of what has always been considered ‘the norm’.

“As a business, we’re also aiming to be 95% paperless – incorporating sustainability into the fabric of the practice, not just in our work for clients.”

A creative and agile approach to design and use of tech is what the industry needs in order to progress, the team believes.

Raj added: “We need to inspire the next generation of engineers if we’re going to address the skills crisis we’re experiencing in the sector. Utilising technology to its full potential – promoting our industry as the modern, dynamic place to work it really is – is one way of doing this.

“We use drone technology as well as design tools like Site 3D, Tekla Structures for completing designs, whilst drawing mark-ups are annotated on iPads. All of our technical drawings are produced in a traditional fashion but stored on cloud-based servers.

“The business community in Nottingham has been really supportive and we’ve achieved a lot in less than a year. It’s a really exciting time for construction in the city – with the regeneration of the Southside of the city, all of the work happening within the vicinity of our Derby Road site, as well as the Boots Island site and Nottingham College work – so we look forward to seeing what the next 12 months brings.”