26 August 2016

Bristol City Hall


Bristol City Hall is a Grade II listed building, with a floor area set over approx.15,500m2, and has been the city’s seat of democracy for over 50 years. The City Hall is used by both council staff and members of the public. Aside from office space, the building’s first floor spaces are available for private hire and can cater for private meetings, conferences or weddings. A major internal refurbishment was planned to create open plan floors and flexible work areas, with a strong focus on preserving the heritage of the building. This involved the demolition of a significant number of internal walls, along with substantial upgrades to mechanical, electrical and data services.

Bristol City Council recognises the importance of managing the risk of asbestos containing materials in order to protect the health and safety of their employees, contractors and members of the public. Enquin Environmental was appointed to undertake a Refurbishment Survey throughout the building with a complex scope of works and access schedule.


The project had challenges from the start, as due to the complexity of the building full design of the M&E services had not been completed by the M&E Designer. The survey had to be constantly re-programmed to meet this ever changing situation. This was made more challenging as the majority of the survey needed to be undertaken outside normal working hours as the building was still occupied during the early stages of the survey. This allowed the project to commence on schedule.

Enquin’s survey team worked closely with the building management team to ensure that any special events, such as weddings, were not affected by the survey. Enquin were required to adapt to any changes at very short notice so as not to disrupt these events.

Project Details

Enquin Surveyors worked very closely with Bristol City Council Staff to ensure that unnecessary damage was not caused to any element of the building or to any of the artwork housed within the building. It was also ensured that work on listed building elements was not undertaken without prior consultation with English Heritage via the design architects.

An adaptable approach was needed in order to meet the needs and requirements of the Client. Several phases of investigation were planned in order to assess each area once identified by the Client.

An interim summary of findings was also provided to allow for remedial works to be programmed swiftly, so areas such as risers could be safely accessed by the M&E Designers and Engineers for finalisation of the design of this element of the project.

To ensure staff safety and minimise site disruption certain areas were identified and postponed being surveyed until after the building was decanted. This included the Cash Hall, where scaffold access was required and Enquin Environmental liaised with and managed a number of Scaffolding Contractors directly employed by the City Council. A Licensed Asbestos Removal Contractor was also utilised to further investigate risers known to be contaminated, under fully controlled conditions, to determine extents of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM’s) and also service runs.  These exploratory investigations led to the design of the heating system being adapted to utilise previously unused/unknown risers, which was more cost effective for the Client by negating the need for wholescale removal of ACM’s for this element of the M&E works.

Ongoing Involvement during the Project

On commencement of the refurbishment works, Enquin Environmental maintained strong links with all stakeholders; setting up chains of communication and instruction with the Principal Contractor and Client for ongoing consultancy and site attendance.

Attendance, analytical results and advice were often given within 24hrs of instruction, ensuring progression of the project and its ultimate delivery within agreed timescales.

Enquin Environmental undertook all aspects of air monitoring and four stage clearances as part of necessary remedial works, as well as assisting in the design of complex large scale decontamination of the building’s Portico Risers. This included the use of licensed scaffolders, allowing for routing of M&E services within the risers.

Quote from Client:

“The performance on the project detailed in the case study could only be labelled first class. To provide a survey to meet our requirements showed a willingness to put the needs and requirements of the Client before the operational requirements of the Company.

“I would have no hesitation in using this company again for any project that required a sympathetic approach to the survey or one where the survey could be undertaken by the company without the requirement of constant management.”

Stephen Ashman, Building Practice Manager, Bristol City Council