FIRE PROTECTION NEED NOT UPSET AESTHETICS
I was very interested to read about Inskip + Jenkins' restoration of Moggerhanger House (AJ 03.05.07). The painstaking investigative work has resulted in the careful and attentive restoration of an outstanding example of Georgian architecture.
Having worked on a large number of heritage projects, as well as representing the UK on the EU-funded project to evaluate fire risk to European cultural heritage, I am acutely aware of the challenges that these projects pose to the design team. The same challenges also provide a great opportunity for innovation. So it was immensely disappointing to see, in two of the photos, smoke detectors located on the ceiling, especially as one of the rooms was described as having the most important interior in the building.
With a little imagination it is possible to provide an equal or greater level of protection with minimal impact on aesthetics. At the very least, smoke detectors of the type shown can be painted to match the background, but a far better effect can be achieved by using some of the other technology available to the fire engineer.
In heritage buildings, where any intervention should be minimal, the appointment of an experienced fire engineer can avoid such absurdities and can provide a fire-protection strategy that meets the needs of the various stakeholders in a way that is sympathetic to the building.
Steve Cooper, director, Cundall Fire Engineering