Heritage Buildings: Problem Solving in Highly Constrained Environments

The significance of heritage buildings, and their relationship to their surroundings cannot be understated. Often a cornerstone to precincts, they offer a sense of a history and contribute to the unique character of an area. Their preservation when redeveloping buildings presents challenges at every stage of a project, and the need for structurally efficient, risk management, and cost-appropriate solutions is often key to a project’s feasibility.

Preserving Heritage

Annually in Australia, 33 per cent of tourists visit a historic/heritage building, site, or monument. Domestic tourists made 4.9 million overnights trips and 4.1-million-day trips to such attractions. In the UK alone, heritage buildings can generate some 31 billion pounds in GVA each year and are valuable to the economy creating thousands of jobs in tourism, construction, and engineering.

Engineering & Design Complexities

When working with heritage buildings,engineering & design challenges can range in nature and complexity – from façade stabilisation during demolition, construction, and throughout its lifetime (which are common across all heritage projects) – to project specific problems like the coordination of temporary external bracing frames through the branches of a nearby tree.

Add to the equation latent site conditions arising from undocumented renovations, limited space, pedestrian overhead protection requirements, the reuse of masonry walls suffering from a deterioration of material strength, and the increase in material and labour costs in recent years, the overall problem quickly snowballs to become multi-faceted and rather complex.

Challenges arise at different stages and can have significant design implications, so having the foresight to resolve and develop the solution around these, helps minimise future cost implications. New challenges always present themselves between different projects.

Tailored Designs: Balancing Objectives

Whether for conservation outcomes, greater return on public or private investment, environmental sustainability, reduced expenditure, place revitalisation, or community engagement, BG&E’s Structural and Construction Engineering teams have extensive technical experience working in and around heritage buildings, providing solutions to meet with economic, environmental, and social objectives presented by their Clients.

Each project is analysed to assess both the immediately apparent, and likely future complexities and risks, enabling tailored design solutions – from concept to construction. BG&E’s engineers guide Clients through the process by presenting all the facts in an easy-to-understand manner, taking into consideration concerns and constraints presented in the brief. An open, transparent, and inclusive approach reassures the client of the design direction and allows the project team to arrive at the right solution together – continually challenging their own ideas, pre-empting future challenges, and iteratively redeveloping solutions to fit the range of complexities encountered.

BG&E's Heritage Contributions

Together, BG&E’s Structural, and Construction Engineers has contributed to the preservation of heritage components in Oxford Street Hotel (Sydney); Verona Cinema in Paddington (Sydney); The Tramsheds (Sydney); The District Court Building (Perth); Mitchell’s Building (Perth); and The Lucky (Newcastle), just to name a few.

BG&E’s team of engineers have ongoing collaboration with heritage consultants, architects, local councils, and contractors, ensuring that any redevelopment of heritage buildings both compliments and celebrates the heritage façade, whilst preserving its form, and history, and adding to its future.