Deep foundations north of the border

Beneath some of Scotland’s most complex building and infrastructure projects, Cementation Skanska has been delivering piling and foundations solutions for more than 75 years.

Cementation Skanska has offices and a permanent presence in Scotland, meaning the team contains local experts who know the area, understand the geology and have the technical expertise to meet some of its most complex challenges.

Emma Haddow is Cementation’s Business Stream Director in Scotland. She worked for Cementation early in her career and recently re-joined us to continue building our legacy in the area, bringing with her over 20 years’ experience in the piling sector.  

At school Emma’s ambition was to go into medicine but following a spell of work experience, she realised it wasn’t for her and opted for a degree in Civil Engineering at Strath Clyde University instead.


After graduating in 2002, she went straight into a career in piling beginning as a Contracts Engineer working onsite. During five years in the role, Emma worked on several big projects in Scotland including The Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh and Auchenkilns Roundabout in Glasgow before moving into design and estimating.

Last year we were pleased to welcome Emma back as Cementation Business Stream Director for Scotland. Emma said: “When I first worked for Cementation I was still early in my career and looking to gain experience.

“I have always been drawn to Skanska because of their values and the experience of the people working for the team. For me, the transition back was natural.”

Emma’s new role sees her moving from her background in technical roles, into a senior business and project management position. She feels her technical experience will be a real benefit, enabling her to bring a different perspective to her new role. Emma’s main aim is to focus on all aspects of a project from offering advice during the pre-construction stage right through to project completion – she wants Cementation to be the number one contractor of choice.

She adds: “Early involvement is key to our success in Scotland. Cementation has a vast amount experience of the ground conditions in Scotland and how to provide a solution that can meet these technically challenging jobs.

“We have a lot of history working on iconic projects and buildings in Scotland and we can draw on this experience and our knowledge of the geology to create the best solution for our customers.”

As a specialist division of Skanska, with a long-established history, we have unique access to a vast pool of collective expertise that we endeavour to bring to every project.


To give more insight into Cementation’s work in Scotland, we’ve brought together a few of our recent projects:

Haymarket, Edinburgh

Haymarket Edinburgh sits on a site that lay undeveloped for some time due to the presence of two historic railway tunnels, dating back to 1846. The tunnels connect Haymarket and Waverley stations so any development needed to be based on a piling and foundations solution that would preserve the integrity of the tunnels for generations to come.

On completion, Haymarket Edinburgh will provide more than 380,000 sq. ft of Grade A office buildings, a hotel, retail space and a vibrant landscaped public area designed to be inclusive for the benefit of the local neighbourhood and the city’s business community.

Cementation Skanska has been involved on all five phases of the Haymarket development. Working in close collaboration with Sir Robert McAlpine and the project team, we designed a solution to instal piles in-between and around the tunnels that would ensure no loading from the new buildings could be transferred onto the tunnels. This was a complex element of the works, with the design of the piles critical to its success.

This project was dependent on close collaboration with Sir Robert McAlpine, Network Rail’s Asset Protection Team and Arup, maintaining exemplary safety standards throughout. Despite it being a complex and constrained city centre site, the foundation works were completed to the highest quality standards, without incident or any Loss Time Accidents.

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Buchanan Wharf, Glasgow

Cementation played a key role in the re-development of Buchanan Wharf on the banks of the river Clyde in Glasgow.

The project to develop a new headquarters for Barclays Bank was a corner stone of this revitalised quarter of Glasgow with Cementation providing piling and ground engineering solutions at the sites known as Buildings 1 and 2.

Having demonstrated our capabilities on the first two sites, we were appointed to work on Building 3, a new university student campus, and Building 5, a 240-unit residential apartment block commissioned by Legal & General. More recently, we also completed Building 6, a 75,000 sq. ft. office spread over six floors.

On Buildings 1 and 2, the depth of the underlying bedrock, at 35-40m below ground level, meant that the installation of piles using standard temporary casing was not an option. Instead, the most effective piling solution for the project was large diameter rotary bored piles using bentonite support fluid. This is a piling technique that we have used successfully over the years throughout Glasgow city centre.

Bentonite is an absorbent, swelling clay and our solution involved sinking bentonite piles to support the main structures using the bentonite as a support fluid for each pile bore. Prior to concreting, the old (dirty) bentonite was removed, cleaned, and sent back to support the excavation, we also reused cleaned bentonite for further piles. This activity all took place from the bentonite farm we installed on site.

To deal with the complex and varying conditions across the different sites of Buchanan Wharf, we worked closely with our customers to develop bespoke solutions for the specific challenges of each location.

Despite working in a tight, busy, city centre location we maintained an exemplary safety record with no lost time accidents reported. All piling work was completed on time, on budget and to the right quality standards.

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Candleriggs, Glasgow

Cementation also won two separate key phases of the £300 million transformation of Glasgow’s Candleriggs Square. Initially appointed by Gilbert Ash for The Student Hotel (TSH) and subsequently by Grahams Construction for the Build-to-Rent scheme.

For TSH, our existing knowledge of Glasgow’s ground conditions and other site constraints was a real advantage – enabling us to develop a solution using three different piling techniques. Full depth segmental (rotary) bore piles were used next to Argyle Street to protect the nearby Network Rail tunnel. For the core of the building and highest load areas we used CFA piles and elsewhere on the site, soil displacement piles.

In moving on to the Build-to-Rent scheme, the on-site experience gained from the first phase meant we were able to modify our approach to the very specific local ground conditions. As a result, we employed rotary bentonite instead of full depth casing on the segmental piles and used more CFA rather than soil displacement piles. A total of 638 piles were successfully installed across the two phases.

Our work in Scotland also involves significant activity in the energy sector, helping to deliver energy and connect communities by installing piles and bases for electricity pylons in some of the most remote and challenging areas of the Scottish Highlands. In 2021, Cementation was awarded a contract on behalf of Scottish and Southern Energy Networks, to construct the bases for 22 new electricity pylons in the Scottish Highlands.

We are enormously proud of our presence and history in Scotland and look forward to continuing to bring our expertise and foresight to a further 75 years of success in the country.

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Last updated: 25/04/2023