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UK Residents Evacuated Over Material Concerns

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

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Residents living in a Hoxton, London-based housing block have recently been instructed to evacuate their homes within 12 months due to a building envelope issue.

More commonly known as Bridport House, the residential development is home to 41 families.

Insulation Investigations

According to Architects’ Journal, over the last few months the Hackney Council conducted a series of investigations at the Karakusevic Carson Architects-designed housing block, revealing issues in the brickwork, clad bays, decking, waterproofing and fire barriers. However, the biggest threat to the structure is reported to be the building’s “potentially combustible insulation.”

Since its opening in 2011, this isn’t the first time the development has experienced issues. Earlier this year, the Hackney Gazette covered an incident where a metal underside fell from a second-story balcony. Previous incidents also involve falling roof tiles, deteriorating bricks and even flooding.

Although KCA was appointed by Hackney Council to curate detailed planning for the development, its relationship with the project ended during building control approvals. Construction was then carried out under a different design-and-build contract with Willmott Partnership Homes.

As stated by KCA, “Karakusevic Carson Architects prepared detailed construction drawings for Bridport House, which were compliant with Building Regulations and were approved by building control.

“However, Karakusevic Carson did not have a site-monitoring presence. The role of Employers Agent was carried out by others. We therefore cannot comment further on the installation or final workmanship.”

Willmott argues that the installations on the project was “widely accepted” and complied with Building Regulations set at the time and had been properly installed and approved by the council’s building control team.

“This is an extremely complicated matter, significantly exacerbated by various aspects of the Building Regulations recently being reinterpreted following the Grenfell tragedy,” said a Willmott spokesperson.

Following further investigations by the London Fire Brigade, the council made an official announcement that it would be unsafe for residents to inhabit the structure while work is conducted to remove the problematic areas.

“We are sorry for the failures in the construction of Bridport House and for the huge disruption residents continue to face,” said a council spokesperson.

“Moving residents from homes we all hoped would be new and permanent is not an easy decision, but our first priority is their safety and we have decided that at Bridport House doing this work while the building remains occupied would create an unacceptable risk.”

Moving Forward

Currently, the housing development—part of larger Hoxton’s Colville Estate—is reportedly safe, after having incorporated 24-hour patrols, revised evacuation procedures and other additional fire protection measures.

In taking steps toward correcting the building’s flaws, the council has announced that it plans to take legal action against the responsible contractor, Willmott Partnership Homes. Willmott has declined to comment on the subject of legal matters.

Fixes to the structure are slated to take up to three years to complete and cost 6 million euros ($6.6 million). Families leaving the residence permanently are also reported to be receiving “one-off home loss payments” totaling 6,300 euros, in addition to other financial incentives.

A more formal decision regarding the development’s future is expected to be reached by council next month, in addition to opening a procurement process.


Tagged categories: Commercial / Architectural; Commercial Buildings; Commercial Construction; Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; EU; Europe; Fire; Health and safety; Insulation; Maintenance + Renovation; Projects - Commercial; Renovation; Residential; Residential Construction; Residential contractors; Safety

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