Palace of Westminster
CAST IRON ROOFS
Purcell is overseeing the ten-year rolling programme of repairs to all cast iron roofs at the palace. The cast iron, tiled roofs were installed on wrought iron structures in the mid 1800s and used innovative technology. They have never undergone major renovation or repair. 160 years on, the roofs are leaking, causing significant damage to the stonework and historic interiors of the building. To avoid further damage to the building fabric, this phased programme of roof repairs is ensuring the building is watertight before any major internal restoration work begins. Purcell are also responsible for repairs to all the adjacent flat roofs and for the provision of roof safety access across all the palace.
FABRIC OF THE BUILDING
Pollution and lack of maintenance is causing significant decay to the stonework. The palace was built using Anston limestone because it was cheaper and ideal for elaborate carving. The stone quickly began to decay and little was done to prevent its decline in the 19th century. There are 3,800 windows, from basic casements in rooms and corridors, to ornate glass panels used in many hallways and chambers. This vast amount of glass, much of it set in bronze framework, no longer provides weather resistance and generates significant heat loss. Purcell are responsible for the conservation and restoration of these bronze windows.
An M&E programme began in 2010 to improve the operation of the primary services. It bought time until a longer term approach was
identified and replaced 15% of the highest risk service plant rooms. Purcell provided heritage and architectural advice to the mechanical and electrical design team throughout the works. as well as being responsible for architectural interventions and associated building repairs.
Fire safety systems in place throughout the palace are out of date. Significant work is being done to bring these systems up to modern standards. This involves upgrades in fire detection and the alarm systems. Purcell is supporting the design team and contractors to ensure that upgrades are sensitive to the historic fabric, while providing necessary improvements to fire safety and building protection.