Ramboll UK was appointed lead consultant to refurbish an office building in the centre of Brussels on behalf of the British Embassy and the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union. Structural, building services, fire engineering, lighting and sustainability services were provided to make the long, narrow, nine storey building with three basement levels fit for purpose.
Limited information and incomplete structural drawings existed for the 1960s building, so the details of its concrete frame and substructure only became available when fittings and fixtures were stripped out. Ongoing survey and assessment work was carried out while refurbishment commenced to reduce the impact of the lack of information on the fast-track construction programme.
Essential security requirements dictated that under-floor trunking was removed and the hollow deck floors sealed throughout the building. We liaised with bomb blast consultants regarding the fit-out of the reception area and before installing internal security walls from the seventh floor up. A complete assessment of the facades was undertaken.
To maximise floor space, a stair was removed between the eighth and ninth floors. Lightweight timber joists and flooring were used to fill the resulting voids. Internal walls were moved, removed or added to accommodate new floor layouts. Wall loads and capacities were verified to ensure they could safely carry the new fixtures and fittings, including modular internal cladding Ð a feature of the reception area.
The British Embassy in Brussels is located in the centre of the city in a long narrow, nine storey building with three basement levels. Ramboll UK was appointed lead consultant on the refurbishment project to house both the Embassy and the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union. Structural, building services and fire engineering as well as lighting and sustainability services were provided.
The scale of the project involved a complete redesign of the existing M&E services, taking into account stringent security requirements. The client also wished to reuse plant and equipment wherever possible to reduce costs and to maximise the floor space in a fast track construction programme.
To comply with security requirements, all under-floor trunking was removed and the hollow deck floors sealed. Two down-stand beams traversing the length of the building on every floor affected ceiling height and reduced the space for services to pass. The solution coordinated the routes for fan coils, pipe and duct work through existing risers to minimise services needing to cross these beams. In some areas, ceilings were lowered to allow services to be offset under the beams.
Much of the original plant and equipment was reused in the project following analysis of user requirements. Local consultation was undertaken to ensure compliance with Belgian regulations. Electrical switchgear and sub-mains cables were retained and distribution boards redesigned as lighting and power circuits for each floor. The existing air handling units and boilers were also preserved. This resulted in significant cost savings for the client.
To maximise space, low-level perimeter fan coil units (FCUs) were swapped for ceiling-mounted FCUs, gaining an additional 1m of space around each floor. Despite local holidays restricting site access and a tight programme, handover of the building took place just nine months from commencement of work.