The engineering challenges of transforming offices with history to high end apartments!

Work is progressing on a scheme to transform a terrace of 6 Georgian town houses with an adjoining modern office into 30 high quality apartments with associated car parking and communal facilities.

Clarkebond has provided a range of engineering services including civils, structural, drainage and site investigation on the scheme at Redcliffe Parade, Bristol.

“Converting old buildings is never quite as straightforward as designing new,” comments Clarkebond’ project structural engineer, Richard Pearce, “and this one is no exception!”

Built in the 1780s and converted from residential use to offices in the ‘70s, the six town houses have listed status which means a lot of conservation issues to consider.  There are lath and plaster ceilings and plaster cornices to preserve, brick vaulted ceilings in the basement that must not be compromised, and as much of the original building materials as possible must be retained.   As a consequence of an unstable party wall, Clarkebond engineers had to amend the foundation designs to eliminate undermining of the wall.  Two gable walls needed to be tied together, and floors had to be strengthened. 

Additional challenges have been posed by working with adjoining buildings of different ages, materials and construction type and the unusual beam and block floor slab in the newer building meant services had to be worked around to avoid the beams.  

Richard adds; “The project has been challenging with its combination of new and old engineering technology. Our job as refurbishment engineers is to ensure that old buildings, with their imprecise materials and techniques and often past their originally intended life, are made sufficiently robust so that they can be used with confidence for purposes which were never envisaged.  Our extensive experience in this area has been very useful in ensuring we achieve this aim here!” 

Work is due to complete in July 2017.

Contractor: Integral Build
Architect: Alec French
Client: Redcliffe Parade MCC LLP, a JV between Change Real Estate and the Canon Family Office