The conversion and extension of Mount Carmel and the adjacent new four-storey residential building were only a small part of a much larger project. From a structural viewpoint, they needed to be treated in a completely different way to the rest of the development. This was particularly evident in the existing Victorian building which, being locally listed, needed a sensitive and careful approach. To enhance our understanding of the existing building, a historical study was undertaken together with a series of opening-up works. This gave an in-depth knowledge of the structure, which comprised load-bearing masonry walls and a mixture of timber joists and steel filler joists with breeze-concrete infill for the floors. An investigation of the timber floors by a specialist revealed the usual array of localised decay, particularly at roof level, which resulted in an assortment of repair details being required. The conversion of a building inevitably involves alterations and modifications to the existing fabric. But, in working with the architect, it was possible to develop a 'light touch' approach, generally avoiding the need for large-scale structural intervention except in certain localised areas. The building structure was fairly robust and could accept the new loadings so no large-scale strengthening of the existing floors was required. Corner ties were added to some wall junctions, and walls were strapped to floors, particularly in places that were adjacent to where the demolition of some 1950s extensions was required.
The new-build parts of the project were four storeys high, allowing the use of traditional load-bearing masonry construction with precast oors incorporating a structural topping. A series of steel access walkways and cantilevering balconies were provided to both new and existing buildings. These were connected to the masonry buildings for stability but detailed to appear as separate slender structures. The balconies had to be detailed carefully where they connected to the oors, notably in the existing building where the oor structure was varied.