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Period Drama

Kash Bhatti uncovers the challenges and delights of working with listed buildings.

Buildings are listed for their special architectural or historical character and are graded accordingly. 

They are protected under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. Listing can include the main external features such as walls, windows, railings and roofs and internal features that make up so much of the historic character, such as, timber panelling, staircases, fireplaces and decorative cornicing. Listed Building Consent must be obtained before altering or removing these features. 

Four years ago CKD Galbraith won an exclusive appointment of 21 townhouse properties on Charlotte Square, Edinburgh on behalf of Fordell Estates Ltd. The square was designed by Robert Adam in 1791 and, with its distinctive facades, is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Corran Properties coordinates all planning, design, development and commercial work on behalf of Fordell. Fordell's vision is to restore the commercial fortunes of these listed buildings by sensitive refurbishment in order to create first class office accommodation suitable for modern businesses.

The first phase of the regeneration comprised renovating six substantial townhouses on the south side of the square and creating new office accommodation to the rear to connect period office space to modern open plan accommodation.

In addition to the sensitive restoration of the roof and external building fabric, internally the refurbishment was extensive. New M&E systems were installed, including air conditioning, complete re-wire and new lighting. Roof and attic spaces were insulated. Extensive re-plastering, cornice repairs and decoration provided a quality finish. CAT 6 cabling, server rooms, kitchens, bike stores, re-cycling stores and showers met incoming tenants' expectations. The traditional interiors were given a modern twist with chrome ironmongery and modern lighting. 

The project was demanding from the early design, consultation, planning and delivery phases. With ten townhouses complete to date and fully let, this project has changed perceptions about what is possible with listed buildings.

Extended listed buildings can be challenging, but often inspires delightful, purposeful and enduring designs, which add to the vitality and interest of the original building. There is clearly a need to respect the original character and significance, but good judgement and quality in both design and execution can produce results that will be appreciated now and for generations to come.

Further information can be found here.