INCA Case Study: The Picture House, Bolton


The Picture House, Bolton

Project Type: Refurbishment

Building Type: High Rise, Mixed Use

Architect: Bernard Taylor Partnership Ltd

System Designer: Wetherby Building Systems Ltd

Installer: Hamilton (Building Contractors) Ltd

System & Finish: Epsibrick 7 MW EWI + Brick Slips

U-value Achieved: 0.22 W/m2k

The Picture House is situated on a busy thoroughfare in Bolton Town Centre, Greater Manchester and in 2008 it underwent conversion by Irwell Valley Housing Association from a 1960’s office building to a thriving residential block with 44 apartments providing affordable housing to first time buyers and key workers. The six storey building consists of two blocks with a central courtyard providing access to the apartments via external walkways at all levels, it also has ground floor retail outlets and resident parking beneath.

As part of the renovation the elevations overlooking Bradshawgate and Silverwell Lane included a timber cladding to floors 1 to 5 and timber clad sliding metal framed sunscreens installed to all balconies.

On 15 November 2019 a fire broke out at The Cube, student accommodation next door to The Picture House. The rapid spread of fire severely affected the building which featured a High Pressure Laminate (HPL) external wall cladding system.

In response to this event, and the fire risk assessments being carried out to high rise buildings post-Grenfell, Irwell Valley Housing Association immediately carried out a fire risk assessment and intrusive investigations at The Picture House and found that the timber cladding, timber battens, breather membrane and cement particle board used in the timber clad areas were non-compliant with current fire rating standards, as a result they had to be removed and replaced immediately.

BWP Consultants were brought in as the Employers Agent and instructed Architect’s Bernard Taylor Partnership Ltd to prepare a performance-based specification for the repair works. BTP Architects liaised with Wetherby Building Systems who produced a Project Specification for their EpsiBrick External Wall Insulation System, this finish was also selected to complement the surrounding red brick buildings.

Hamilton was appointed to carry out the façade removal and replacement which has had a metamorphic effect on the building’s overall appearance, gone is the faded timber and in its place a striking brick finish.

Hamilton Managing Director, Robert Storton explains: “The Picture House was a rewarding project to be part of. 

Hamilton Managing Director, Robert Storton explains:

“The Picture House was a rewarding project to be part of. Residents stayed in their homes whilst the work was carried out, so it was important that everyone worked efficiently and considerately.

As Main Contractor for the project we came across several challenges with this project, firstly the location was a logistical challenge, not only is access around the building extremely limited but it is also situated on a busy junction in the town centre, with shops on the ground floor and emergency exits in the passageways between the neighbouring buildings. Retaining constant access and protecting the residents and public was our priority so the scaffold was specially designed and adapted to suit and the materials hoist only used within set time periods to limit any disruption.

We also had a lack of storage facilities on site and given the combustible nature of the stripped timber components we removed the waste from site on a constant basis to ensure there was no risk of fire from waste materials.

Another challenge was the unknown substrate conditions, upon opening the façade we stripped the system back to the internal plasterboard and unfortunately found multiple defects to the Steel Frame System which had to be repaired prior to the EWI system installation.”

The works carried out by Hamilton were:

  • Removal of non-compliant timber cladding system
  • SFS repairs
  • Insulation within the SFS with approved Rockwool insulation
  • Installation of a 12.5mm non-combustible A1 rated structural board
  • EPDM’s to make all apertures watertight
  • Installation of the 80mm MW insulation with 14mm brick slip finish
  • Removal of non-compliant timber decking to balconies and replacement with compliant balcony decking

Hamilton Managing Director, Robert Storton adds:

“With over 25 years’ experience, Hamilton was well placed to deal with these factors and carry out the high-rise installation to a flawless finish.”

Irwell Valley Housing Association’s investment has given the building a new lease of life, reassuring the residents with its high safety standards and complimenting the wider regeneration taking place in the area, ensuring this iconic building can stand proud for many years to come

Robert Storton

MD, Hamilton Builing Contractors Ltd

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