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The Conversion of a Department Store into a Modern Office
Presented by Karl Wallasch, Associate Director, Hoare Lea
The construction output in the United Kingdom is more than £110 billion per annum and contributes to 7% of Gross domestic product (GDP). Approximately 60% of construction output in the UK is new build, whilst 40% is refurbishment and maintenance. In London, due to presence of existing city structure, refurbishment and change of use projects are very common. In particular the refurbishment of existing building including change of use, extensions, considering listing of buildings or building parts can set unique boundary conditions for any design team. These changes to an existing building often create significant implications on the existing fire safety strategy and application of current fire safety standards and guidance cannot be applied. However, the use of modern fire engineering techniques can help to develop safe and robust fire safety strategies to show compliance that minimum level of fire safety is met, furthermore, their use could provide designers and end-users with a better and more detailed understanding of the level of safety and future flexibility for the proposed change of use.
This presentation will show how the use of modern and innovative fire engineering techniques was applied to the conversion and extension of an existing department store into a modern office in London. The existing Department Store in South London (Brixton) has been restored, refurbished and extended to accommodate a new office (Head office for architectural practice Squire and Partners), members club on new top floor level, several individual retail units as well as housing an independent bar/restaurant. The development includes a refurbishment of the former Fire Station and Stables to provide a new location for Brixton Post Office and three units for local creative businesses. The office comprises 4,767sq m of design studio including a new social rooftop space expressed as a series of pavilions, a staff café, gallery/seminar space, modelshop and facilities for staff including cycle storage, showers and a landscaped garden courtyard.
The existing building included compartment floors, sprinkler protection and external fire escape stairs. The new concept was based on changing use (from shop to office), adding new floor level, removing sprinkler protection, removing compartment floors and introducing voids throughout all office levels. From the start of this project it was clear that the change of use, conversion of an existing building will include challenges for the fire engineers. Hoare Lea has been appointed at an early start to assist the architects to overcome these challenges and use modern fire engineering techniques to deviate from standard building regulations to achieve a robust and safe design without restraining the architectural freedom and flexibility.