Historic building consultants

The Oculus team is passionate about historic and listed buildings and about maintaining and conserving our architectural heritage for future generations to live in, stay in or simply visit and enjoy.

Compliance with building regulations is fundamental when carrying out remedial or conversion work on a historic or listed building. Oculus is uniquely qualified to provide high quality, professional building control services for historic buildings that meet the needs and aspirations of its clients whilst ensuring compliance with building regulations. Our expertise can help avoid expensive, abortive design work and ensure a smooth transition from design through to final construction on site.

Conserving historic buildings does not mean "preserving them in aspic". It means finding ways of maintaining their fine architectural features whilst making them accessible and relevant to our modern lifestyle.

Oculus provide a wealth of knowledge and experience in relation to fire and access for historic buildings

Fire safety for historic buildings

Modern fire safety regulations can present a significant challenge for owners and custodians of historic or listed buildings. Poor advice in this area can incur high costs and lead to disastrous consequences.

Oculus provides expert advice on Fire Safety for historic and listed buildings. We have a proven track record and can help with the development of fire strategies as well as carrying out risk assessments. Peter Norris in particular has extensive experience in dealing with the conflicts that arise between regulations and conservation and has published several books on the subject. He also lectures on Fire Safety and the Building Regulations at the University of Bath to graduates on the architectural degree course, to post-graduates studying the MSc Course, Conservation of Historic Buildings, the RIBA Part III course and at seminars.

Oculus are involved in:

  • Developing fire strategies having due regard for historic fabric and limiting intervention.
  • Undertaking fire risk assessments and advising on solutions where significant findings require upgrading or alteration works having due regard for historic fabric and limiting intervention.
  • Providing input for integration into Conservation Management Plans for heritage assets relating to fire safety and Building Regulations.
  • Advising on sensitive solutions to resolve significant findings from fire risk assessment by others.
  • Advising on access strategies having due regard for historic fabric and limiting intervention.
  • Providing advice on energy conservation in relation to historic buildings.
  • Assistance in resolving fire safety problems between BCBs and Fire Authorities
  • Assistance in resolving Building Regulation related problems or fabric issues

With their knowledge and understanding of historic building construction, as chartered building surveyors, Oculus are ideally suited to provide the above services on an analytical and risk-assessed basis.

CASE STUDY
Tyntesfield

Tyntesfield is a spectacular Victorian Gothic Revival house with gardens, parkland and much more.  It had been the house of the Gibbs family for over 150 years. As the house was inherited by each generation of the Gibbs family, they stamped their own identity on the house and estate with different developments. The 14th June 2002 marked a new beginning for the house and estate when the National Trust announced their new acquisition.  The house was in need of extensive renovation and The National Trust set about re-roofing, re-wiring and re-plumbing the main house and generally improving access for visitor experience. 

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CASE STUDY
The Walronds, Cullompton

The Walronds is a Listed Grade 1 building erected in 1605. It was originally constructed as a dwelling house but has been used as a meeting house at ground floor level with a maisonette formed within the two floors immediately over the ground floor.  The building was on the English Heritage register of buildings at risk.  The proposal involved the renovation and conservation of the building which includes improvements to fire safety.

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CASE STUDY
The Gainsborough Bath Spa

The Gainsborough building situated in the heart of Bath was formerly part of the City of Bath College. A Grade II listed building from the Georgian period designed by John Pinch the Elder. The conversion to a 5* luxury hotel presented many challenges. The new multi-storey Lower Borough Walls wing reflects the host building architecturally. In the heart of the hotel lies Spa Village Bath, which is quite unique insofar as it has access to the natural thermal mineral-rich waters, making it the only natural thermal spa inside a hotel in the UK.

The main stair protection was particularly challenging as enclosing it was not an option from a conservation perspective. A solution of discreetly placed fire curtains operating on the fire alarm system to provide protection was developed. There are also isolated areas with sprinkler protection to provide an alternative to passive fire protection.

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