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Blog: Preservation & Rejuvenation SECBE Awards 2019 finalist - 200 High Street, Lewes

31 May 2019

submitted by MacConvilles Surveying

200 High Street, Lewes - submitted by MacConvilles Surveying

200 High Street is a prominent semi-detached home on the main high street in Lewes, East Sussex. Timber framed, built in the late 1700s with a mathematical tiled elevation and projecting curved bay.

This Grade II listed building has been used both residentially and commercially in its time. Over the years it has been a tea shop, a restaurant, and barbers with each altering the property to suit their needs.

It was built in the eighteenth century using traditional methods now attributed to the artisans and craftsmen of their period who used experience and common sense rather than calculation to create their buildings. Past renovations had thrown up their own issues, many of which hadn’t appreciated what lay behind or the impact of their interventions.

MacConvilles first noticed the bay was leaning when asked to assist with a party wall matter and, after speaking with the clients and taking a closer look, they discovered extensive decay to what was thought to be decorative elements but was in fact the structure of the bay. The clients had believed the bay had been repaired by an earlier refurbishment however this proved ineffective and failed to understand the core issue.

Aesthetics were important but didn’t fit with the engineer’s plans. They had to think innovatively to please both engineer and conservation as well as the client, in a way that would ensure the building was structurally sound and faithful to the eighteenth-century charm.

As they worked many new issues were uncovered. The bay was actually twisted and had pulled the lead roof forward causing rainwater to cascade off, often flooding the basement below. Straightening this would mean unpicking the roof, a job that would use up time and money that was not available and possibly finding further problems to address. As a team, they were able to use their combined skills and develop ideas that would solve each problem in a way not dissimilar to how the building was originally built.

Key challenges:

  • Assess and understand the design of the building without excessive intrusion that would disrupt occupation or de-stabilise the bay.
  • Create a design solution to preserve the character of the building, satisfy the engineer, satisfy conservation and allow occupation.
  • Source materials to match and blend with the building.
  • Find contractors capable of undertaking the work, ensuring fair and competitive tenders.
  • Support the client and translate proposals.
  • Control budget.

As an added pressure, the house sat on the route for the annual Lewes Bonfire procession and no scaffolding was allowed remain in place during that time due to the safety risk of both the property and those taking part in the event. They had to get the work done to a high quality in a short space of time.

The scale of the job was huge and they had to work carefully, not knowing what other issues they might unveil. When the job was completed the client was satisfied with the restoration and pleased disruption was kept to a minimum.

Teamwork and sharing knowledge are the main features MacConvilles feel stand out, as well as workmanship. There is no one way to a solution and all thoughts and ideas, sometimes off-the-wall, are worthy. The carpenter, steelworker, mathematical tiler and the engineer all came together to share their skills and offer solutions that would benefit the job. 


Highlights:

  • Retention of a significant proportion of original materials. The original sashes and much of the curved glass has been retained and mathematical tiling reused.
  • Full team involvement was encouraged at every stage, creating a cohesive team. A problem-solving approach adopted was key to ensuring a good marriage between old and new techniques material and building standards.
  • Private ownership and maintenance of listed buildings need not be inaccessible to the domestic client.

For more details:

Visit MacConvilles Surveying

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