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Architects battle against Cumbrian floods

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Cumbrian architects are battling to keep their businesses running in the wake of severe floods caused by Storm Desmond

Over the weekend the county broke the UK record for the heaviest rainfall within in a 24 hour period - a gauge in Honister showed 341mm - with the deluge flooding businesses in a number of town centres and leaving tens of thousands of properties without power.

Ken Allen, partner at Unwin Jones Partnership in Carlisle town centre, told the Architects’ Journal: ‘We are currently struggling under 18 inches of water in the downstairs of our office.

‘However, we are working all hands to the pump to be able to resume operations tomorrow morning.’

Kendal-based architect Roger Haigh of Haigh Architects said: ‘We have been lucky not to have been flooded but I am the only person in the office because nobody else could get in.’

The offices of Carlisle City Council have also been closed after the civic centre it shares with Cumbria County Council was flooded.

Malcolm Wilson, owner of Black Box Architects in the city said: ‘We can’t get hold of a planner at the moment to discuss any of our schemes. The last time this happened, they were out of action for six weeks and this time it is worse.’

Elaine Blackett-Ord, director of heritage practice Blackett-Ord Conservation, said that her practice’s empty basement had flooded but the main office had escaped by virtue of being located up a flight of steps in a Georgian listed building.

She said: ‘We have been relatively lucky, although we have had no power since Saturday morning, and the building is damp and smelling bad because the drains backed up.’

On the bright side, she predicted a demand from owners of historic buildings wishing to repair and protect their buildings in the wake of the floods.

Outside of the county, Lancaster was running on generator power following a period without power due to the flooding of electricity sub stations.

Richard Wooldridge, director at Harrison Pitt Architects in the city, said: ‘We have already had three meetings cancelled. A member of staff went to London and has been unable to get back.’

Back in Cumbria, the site of Carmody Groarke’s Windermere Steamboat Museum (pictured below) found itself under 30cm of water after the banks of the famous lake swelled, just two weeks after work began on site.

Nobody was available from the practice when contacted by AJ, but a spokeswoman for client Lakeland Arts said: ‘The site flooded in 2009 and the designs have been quite mindful of the rising and lowering of the lake. We aren’t worried about the building flooding.’

armody Groarke's plans for the £13 million redevelopment of the Windermere Steamboat Museum - east elevation (submitted for planning 5 April 2013)

Carmody Groarke’s plans for the £13 million redevelopment of the Windermere Steamboat Museum - east elevation

Source: Forbes Massie


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