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Grenfell inquiry appoints architectural expert witness on tower refit

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Architect John Priestley has been called by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry as an expert witness tasked with producing a report on the ‘architectural design’ of the tower’s controversial refurbishment

The inquiry has selected the founder of John Priestley Associates - who the ARB confirms is not currently a registered architect - to conduct a detailed examination of the building works undertaken at the west London high-rise between 2014 and 2016.

Expert witnesses are appointed by the inquiry to give their opinions on ‘matters which call for expert skill and knowledge’ and also called on to provide technical analysis and expertise. 

The tower’s refurbishment – designed by Studio E Architects – is one of the key focal points of the inquiry, which heard earlier this month how the installation of cladding on the high-rise was not compliant with the Building Regulations.

Priestley’s report on the refit will look at the choice of materials, the development of the design, compliance with legislation and regulations and the quality of the workmanship.

The report will be disclosed to all of the inquiry’s core participants and presented during the hearings.

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John Priestley Associates, an architectural practice and construction technology consultant, describes on its website how its members have acted as expert witnesses, analysing fire-damaged buildings to explain how the fires spread.

‘We work closely with fire investigation scientists to provide opinion as to whether a building fire could have been prevented or considerably reduced in scale by better design, construction or pre-event inspection,’ it states.

It also outlines the practice’s expertise in investigation and opinion on defective construction, professional negligence and architectural advice on design and construction.

The first six months of the inquiry is focusing solely on what happened on the night of the fire, followed by months of further evidence examining why the fire happened.

A timetable for the second part of the inquiry has yet to be set.

Photo by Anthony Coleman

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