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
Shakespeare's New Place / Nash's House

Spearheaded by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, a new oak and bronze gateway was created that opens on the original threshold of Shakespeare's New Place. This new permanent exhibition brings to life the story of Shakespeare's New Place and the personal life of its most famous occupant, and where he had his family home for 19 years. 

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CASE STUDY
Airbus - AWIC

The new £40m Aircraft Wing Integration Centre is arranged to maximise opportunities for departments to share spaces, equipment and ideas and will provide an innovative, highly flexible and easily adaptable physical test environment that forms a proving ground for the future technologies. This includes Airbus’ Wings of tomorrow programme, part of which focuses on exploring how wings can be more efficient, lighter and easier to make and assemble, looking at the best materials to use, assembly techniques and new technologies in aerodynamics and wing architecture. Covering 9,050m2 the scheme comprises hangar facilities including a 'Strong Floor' and relocatable ‘Strong Wall’, a high capacity hydraulic system to power multiple test rigs, three overhead cranes, laboratories, testing control rooms and open plan offices. As this facility is to be used to develop new technologies it was clearly important to build in flexibility for future uses. The delivery team was involved through this period and translated the design development into physical form with the same mind-set.

The ‘Strong Floor’ itself is 40 metres long by 18 metres wide and is housed within a building over 25 metres tall to allow the testing of full size wings from the largest Airbus aircraft including long term fatigue testing. A total of 1,440 cubic metres of concrete was used for the floor which took some 23 hours to cast to a total depth of two metres. The steel reinforcement amounted to a total of approximately 280 tonnes of rebar, estimated to be around 54 km laid end-to-end.

The 'Strong Wall' is 14 metres long, 10 metres high, 4.5 metres deep and has a total weight of 220 tonnes. It is made up of four modules and can be configured in two separate two module walls or a single four module wall. The mounting surfaces are machined to a close tolerance and when erected on the strong floor all points on the flange faces are within +/-1mm of a flat vertical plane. The structure is designed to cope with billions of load cycles so resistance to fatigue is the determining factor as well as its immense strength.

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