Bureau Veritas Takes the Crown in Building Control at New Westminster Abbey Museum


Continuing to raise the bar on building standards across the UK, Bureau Veritas building control services proved invaluable during the recent construction of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey.

Due to open its doors on 11 June, the new £22.9m gallery and museum will display over 300 treasures charting the Abbey’s thousand-year history. It has been built in the medieval triforium - a 50ft stretch of gallery previously hidden from the public - which offers spectacular views of the Palace of Westminster and across Parliament Square.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries will be accessed via the newly-built Weston Tower - the first major addition to the Abbey Church since 1745 – which includes an intricately designed staircase and lift. During the construction, a key challenge for Abbey staff, heritage architects, the fire service and the main contractor was to preserve the historic building’s Grade I-listed features while maintaining the highest fire safety standards for the public gallery’s vast collection of artefacts and exhibits.

As such Bureau Veritas, a global leader in Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC), was called upon to provide Approved Inspector Building Control Services to the project. Using its extensive experience in fire safety, the firm’s dedicated team was able to provide sound regulatory and legislative advice, which proved instrumental in developing a robust fire safety solution essential to meeting the Abbey’s complex design needs.

Core to this was taking a holistic approach to fire safety, where Bureau Veritas assessed travel distance aspects, reviewed complex evacuation modelling, as well as reviewing lighting, exit signage and fire alarms so that they met safety regulations while being in keeping with the surroundings. For instance, during the construction of Weston Tower, the team work tirelessly to confirm that the tower’s lift was well equipped with firefighting measures such as a dry riser, without compromising the building’s historic façade.

Throughout the project, Bureau Veritas also held numerous workshops for the client, designers, architects and other contractors in order to help manage risk throughout the building lifecycle and subsequently reduce costs. From early involvement during the design stages through to site inspections and final certification, the company was able to give designers confidence that the project will comply with Building Regulations and all relevant legislation. As a result, the team succeeded in making sure The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries met its building control obligations in time for opening.

Andy Lowe, director of building control at Bureau Veritas, comments: “We are absolutely delighted to have delivered a solution that not only ensures Westminster Abbey maintains the highest standards in accordance with building regulations for the two million people who visit the iconic church each year, but one that is also in keeping with the building’s magnificent historic features.”

Ptolemy Dean, Surveyor of the Fabric at Westminster Abbey, said: “We were incredibly impressed by Bureau Veritas’ building control services during this project. The firm worked meticulously with the Abbey team, contractors and the fire service to certify the striking new tower and museum achieved building compliance. We’d like to pass on our thanks to Bureau Veritas for the invaluable part they played in helping to achieve our vision for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries.”

For further information on Bureau Veritas' Construction Consultancy click here. Alternatively call 0345 600 1828 or email info@uk.bureauveritas.com.

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