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The Commonwealth Institute is astonished that Ed Dorrell's article (AJ 13.07.06) not only sought to convey a fundamental difference of opinion, which does not exist, regarding the source of the leaking problems of the building (both parties agreeing that the problem lies in the drainage system from the roof), but in so doing totally ignored the technical information and material from professionals supplied in response to his enquiry - as well as the real issue. The resulting article was inaccurate and misleading.

In particular the opinion of the roofing contractors themselves which stated: 'The irregular shape/profile of this roof meant that it had two external high points and two internal low points and all the surface water (i. e. rain) would channel and collect its way down to these two low points where it would enter into a deep sump and then down into a relatively small circular rainwater pipe contained within a structural column sited within the building itself. This is where your problem lies? On day 1 of the project we [the Contractor] raised the question as to exactly what was happening to these two vertical pipes? We were told not to touch them. They were to be left alone? and we must make do as best we can? We witnessed at first hand on site during torrential rain the torrents of water finding its way down the various roof pitches and into one of the two sumps and saw this vortex of water swirling around and being unable to discharge down the pipe due to the sheer volume of water. . . The two downpipes (and the buried drains below them) needed massively upgrading in bore to stand any chance of coping. . . [the Project Managers] were advised of this [and] the Architect was told. . .

Until these two pipes are massively enlarged, this problem will continue unabated.'

The current Trustees were not responsible for the specification or execution of these works. They have had to deal with the consequences and there is no doubt the building leaks, as recent pictures demonstrate. Furthermore, water was seen entering the building during light rain by representatives of Avery Associates as recently as 19 August 2005.

If there is a simple solution to the problem, it seems surprising that it was not advised and tested at the time the specifications for the work were settled and before the considerable expense of the principal refurbishment was incurred.

Judith Hanratty, Chairman, Commonwealth Institute

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