Retrofit Ramble

A group of 27, including architectural practitioners and others with an interest in the industry, gathered at the entrance to Cripplegate House on the evening of Wednesday 13th May, to take part in the Worcestershire Society of Chartered Architects “Retrofit Ramble”.

The evening was kicked-off by Kevin Davis at DJD Architects, who explained the works that had been undertaken at the St John’s Towers for “Fortis Living”. It was interesting to hear how the structural render system had to be tied back to the concrete frame of the buildings due to the condition of the existing brickwork cladding the towers, and how the Planners had originally wanted the towers to be finished in a brown render! Kevin told us how all the works were undertaken whilst the building was fully occupied, and it was a great treat to be able to visit the “Sky Lounge” and take in the fantastic views across Worcestershire.

The group were then shuttled down the 14 storeys in the lift, and set out to ramble to “Riverside”, where the University of Worcester had offered the use of the lecture theatre for the group to congregate. Phil Kavanagh, from KKE Architects, gave a short presentation to explain the retrofit works that had been undertaken at Riverside in converting it from a car show room and servicing facility, to the specialist arts and sports facility that it is now. It was interesting to see how well aligned the two uses actually were, as few changes to the planning of the building were required, and works were predominantly related to cladding, insulating and interiors.

Phil also showed slides to explain the refurbishment works that had been undertaken at St Dunstan’s, to give some background for the final visit of the Ramble. There was an interesting discussion regarding the decision to over clad the signature original brickwork, justified on several levels. The building needed additional insulation and, whilst it would have been possible to insulate internally this would have eaten into the precious floor area. As the condition of the brickwork was not in good condition and the college were interested in giving the building a new identity, the decision was made to apply insulation and render to the outside. Phil also explained how the engineers had undertaken thermal modelling to predict solar shading requirements.

The group had a look around “Riverside”, visiting the café area and sports observation room that overlooks the sports hall, before rambling over Sabrina Bridge to the college. The Head of Estates kindly showed the group around the various learning spaces, including the Hair and Beauty areas that are all open to the public on a day-to-day basis. The Art and Design Studios on the top floor were of particular interest to the group, where the original steel roof trusses and north lights were retained and have been exposed, along with the building services. To conclude the ramble the group were invited to visit the roof, before retiring to the café area where the college had kindly provided tea and coffee refreshments.

Many thanks to the Worcestershire Society of Chartered Architects for organising the evening, along with DJD Architects, Fortis Living, KKE Architects, the University of Worcester, and HOW College, for making it possible.