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Heritage

Heritage projects

Gunnersbury Park Restoration

CLIENT: London Borough of Ealing
VALUE: £18.5m
DATE: September 2017

Refurbishment and conservation project of the mid-17th century Grade II-listed Large Mansion and nearby parkland structures, undertaken within a public/live environment.

The project has provided a museum to the community and studio workshops overlooking the parkland at the end of the Mansion. A new café will also be built on the grounds near the Large Mansion.

The works comprised the following:

External works:

  • Restoration of the building façade: Stripping of the existing lead paint, Structural repairs, Roman cement render repairs to over 50% of the building fabric, KEIM mineral paint finish,
  • Restoration of 200 doors and windows
  • Structural roof repairs consisting of refitting existing/ or fitting new slate roof tiles, new asphalt roofs
  • Restoring the existing chimneys, roof lights, and lanterns including new lead flashings
  • Extensive protection works to existing roof lights
  • Box gutters and refurbished rain water pipe

Internal works:

  • Flooring strengthening works including installing large steel beams that support internal rooms
  • New mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) services throughout the building
  • Incorporating a new platform lift, featured passenger lift – into existing mezzanine rooms - including structural alterations , glaze passenger lift to be within 4 floor of existing stairwell.
  • Conservation of the Victorian kitchens; new toilet facilities
  • Conservation works to existing fire places and decorative ceilings with interpretation fit out works
  • Conservation works to doors, windows, shutters and existing joinery; bras decorative works to handrails
  • Installing interpretation works throughout the building
  • Plant replacement – isolation, demolition and removal of the existing plant equipment (an oil tank) and installation of new MEP services (including a new plant) in the basement

Project Challenges

Public/live environment

We set up a working compound for welfare and storage and formed segregation route for the public. We also established a separate vehicle route. At the main gates to the site we installed a CCTV camera and placed one of our employees to record each visitor coming in and leaving the site.

Demonstrating commercial awareness

Next to the Gunnersbury Large Mansion there is another smaller mansion which houses a museum and generates income through school visits. The smaller mansion can only be accessed through the main entrance which was closed off to the public which means that the loss of income was a genuine threat. To overcome this we put in place an access management system with a temporary pathway to allow the public to access the small mansion.

The Temple building is regularly used for providing history lessons for school children. In order to open the building and provide access to the community at the earliest opportunity we accelerated the works internally. Once opened, we moved onto renovating the exterior which meant that lessons could still take place despite the building not being handed over. Only then we moved onto renovating the exterior which meant that the lessons could take place despite the building not being completely handed over.

Community involvement

The extent of the works means that some of the facilities would be out of use for local residents and we strived to minimise that. For example, in the southern part of the site there are community gardens used by many local residents. Closing that section off for too long would seriously limit their ability to use it. To overcome this we began the works there before moving onto different parts of the project. This allowed the works to be handed over quickly so residents could resume their activities without unnecessary delay. Such extensive projects also often led to residents not being well informed. To combat this we and to provide opportunities for involvement we set out to provide work experience to the students within the London Borough of Ealing and run hard hat tours. To reach the rest of the community we sent out a monthly newsletter which provides information on the works being completed.

Reducing risks - scaffolding

Poor scaffolding erection can often result in damage to the building which is being worked upon, with a listed building, the damage could be much more severe and costly to rectify. Because of the great historical significance of the Mansion we employed a specialist scaffold designer who designed scaffold that was independent of the building hence avoiding the risk of damage.

Reducing risks - protecting against fire

Fire can be the most destructive event that can happen to a historic building and because of the historical significance of the building we had to do everything we could to reduce this risk. The introduction of conventional fire doors and partitions can have a disastrous effect on a building’s character and historic interest therefore alternative solutions are needed. In order to reduce the risk of fire we moved most of the hot works off site, away from the building. As a secondary precaution we used pipes that screw on and do not need to be welded. To reduce the risk even further we employed a strict fire control system. Usually building works go on until approximately 3 pm but we adjusted the time to 1 pm – this allowed more time between completion of the works and vacating the site in which we could monitor to site closely for any fire related incidents.

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