We are now seeing our approach to the refurbishment of existing buildings is changing. This is not only due to the clear sustainability advantages of reusing what we have, AKT II fully support campaigns such as the Architect’s Journal’s #retrofirst campaign, but also because we have access to solutions releasing more potential than ever before when working with existing structural frames. With better, more expansive information allowing the maximum opportunity of these ‘old’ structures to be unlocked. We believe this shift can be attributed to three independent yet interlinking factors;
1. Building stock
Buildings constructed in the 60s, 70s, and later are fundamentally different from buildings of the early 20th century and often have more robust frames, with less latent defects. Therefore, as engineers, we have the ability to change the entire structural philosophy of these buildings and not be limited to the basic cut and carve of the frame.
We are now reaping the benefit for developers of situations where copies of the original design drawings are accessible and possibly even site records of the construction process. Having this data, supplemented by early upfront insitu material and geotechnical testing provides a huge advantage. This data allows for forensic engineering to take place very early in the design process, controlling project risk, and importantly allowing this pre vacant position (VP) and planning submissions.
3. Tools and technology
The development of new tools and technology has further advanced the ability of engineers over the last 10 years. The unprecedented boom in technology allows us to analyse buildings in a wholly different way to previous generations of engineers. One particular area that has significantly benefited is geotechnical engineering. In the past 5 years, these technological advancements have aided geotechnical and structural engineers to access and unlock latent potential within buildings that the original designers were unaware they had left for our present-day engineers to exploit.
This significant paradigm shift, coupled with hard work, empathetic working, and a passion for the success of the project has led to the recent successes of numerous reuse projects including South Bank Tower, Hylo, and 100 Liverpool Street.