National Portrait Galley – Phase 2

Sympathetic Soft Strip

Client: National Portrait Gallery
Project: National Portrait Gallery

Brief Description:

In the capacity of Principal Contractor, KpH Deconstruction undertook this 10 week project on behalf of the National Portrait Gallery and working alongside Turner and Townsend and Gardiner & Theobold. The project was awarded following a successful OJEU procurement process where quality and delivery were scored in favour of cost.

The National Portrait Gallery is a Grade I listed building and at the time of our works was closed to the public whilst it undergoes extensive refurbishment.

Works were carried out across both the East Wing and the Main Building and over 4 floors – Basement to Second Floor along with various Mezzanine Levels.

As with Phase 1, this was a very complex project taking into consideration the listed status and the fact that it shared a number of  party walls with the neighbouring National Gallery. KpH had to carry out regular noise and vibration monitoring to avoid any potential movement or vibration damage to the priceless paintings that were hung within the National Gallery. The noise and vibration testing was invaluable during our works to allow them to best prepare for the follow on works which involved a much heavier cut and carve package. The benchmark testing allowed them to determine what tools could be used and tolerated during that phase of works.

Careful removal of all the finishes was key to ensuring that any potential damage was mitigated to the existing features and the buildings structure. Whilst undertaking the strip-out works the team made various discoveries which then needed to be inspected and documented by the architectural team; this was extremely exciting as some of these items had not been seen for a number of years.

An extensive protection package was installed to ensure that Grade I and Grade II listed features were not damaged. This was carefully sequenced to be undertaken whilst works were undertaken in the newer part of the building and logistics for waste removal were carefully thought out to avoid any transference in these areas. Waste was removed via the picture lift to the rear of the building and was co-ordinated to take place in the shared loading bay with the National Gallery which was also being occupied by Willmott Dixon who were undertaking refurbishment works in the neighbouring National Gallery.

The original intention for the works was to remove the existing fire alarm system and replace with a wireless temporary system. It became apparent once on site that the system had been adapted multiple times over the years with very little historic records. It was therefore decided that we would not be able to proceed in this manner for fear of removing fire cover to areas that housed priceless art whilst also creating a potential risk of evacuating the building due to potential false alarms. The team decided that we would work around the existing system which required careful removal of ceiling services whilst ensuring the smoke heads were not disturbed. This more considered and methodical process was undertaken and whilst it required more time KpH were still able to complete within the required contract programme.

Scope of Works

Works on site generally comprised of the following:

  • soft strip of historic gallery finishes
  • strip-out of walls, ceilings and floor finishes
  • M&E services removal together with the retention of live services and working around the existing fire alarm system
  • plant removal
  • basement excavations
  • sensitive investigation works for architectural and design teams
  • sectional removal of finishes back to historic structures
  • asbestos removal
  • installation of ply protections to listed and historic main staircase