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Public areas in tower blocks often have a poor image and can be an unwelcoming environment for residents and visitors.
This negative image is partly a result of common design flaws, such as inadequate security, poor lighting and badly specified finishes, coupled with inadequate maintenance and cleaning. Poorly managed spaces can attract anti-social behaviour and vandalism which leads to a further deterioration in the quality of the internal environment.
Making improvements in the lobby areas can be a very cost-effective way of improving the overall image of the tower block and specifying appropriate materials and fittings that are easy to clean, maintain and replace can help to reduce future running costs. It is also important to identify and remove barriers to access for people with disabilities, parents with children, and the elderly where reasonably possible.
As the existing circulation can be very cramped consider re-planning or extending outside the tower footprint on the ground floor, to create a more welcoming and accessible entrance.

 

REFURBISHMENT OPTIONS

 Basic

Design areas for easy maintenance

Compliance with the DDA

Remove Asbestos
Prevent Noise pollution

Good

Use Anti-Graffiti Coatings

 Exemplary

Increase lobby area

Design areas for easy maintenance

 

The common areas of tower blocks can be costly to maintain and clean as they are often a focus for anti-social behaviour when it occurs. Leaving the public circulation areas in a state of disrepair often encourages further damage. While not a substitute for a well-planned and regular maintenance strategy, careful design and specification of materials at the outset can help to make maintenance simpler and more cost-effective.

 

Careful specification of the following building elements is key to the maintainability of the common areas:

 

·         Floor Finishes

·         Wall and Ceiling Finishes

·         Internal Glazing

·         Fixtures and Fittings

 

Floor finishes:

The choice of floor finish can contribute significantly to both the maintainability and environmental impact of a building and should be given careful consideration. For easy maintenance, floor surfaces need to be physically durable and maintain their visual appearance over time. They also need to be non-slip and suitable for wet washing. Returning the floor finish up the wall by 150mm or installing an appropriate coved skirting can facilitate cleaning. Ceramic or quarry tiles are a cost effective and sustainable option due to their durability and, as they are modular, can be replaced selectively when required.

 

Wall and ceiling finishes:

To facilitate cleaning, walls and ceilings generally should be smooth and painted with hard gloss or high quality waterproof emulsion. Textured surfaces, for example where paint is applied to un-plastered concrete blocks, may be difficult to clean. Using colours from standard colour ranges, such as the RAL system that is non-manufacturer specific, will help decorative repairs to be made in the future which match with the existing finishes. Robust, self-finished materials such as brickwork or fair-faced concrete can be very durable, though it may be worth considering a clear protective coating to reduce the build-up of dirt and facilitate cleaning.

 

Internal glazing:

Consider the use of laminated glass. Smaller glazing modules can facilitate replacement and reduce costs and wastage when breakages do occur.

 

Fixtures & Fittings:

The correct choice and location of fixtures and fittings can have a large impact on their maintainability. Choose secure, vandal-proof designs that are non-institutional in appearance. Integrating fixtures and fittings into larger building elements where possible, and installing them flush with building surfaces without visible fixings, can reduce the opportunities for vandalism and theft. Materials that have been bolted or screwed together with tamper proof fixings are easier to remove for repair or replacement than those that have been nailed or glued in place. Ideally items should be located so they are accessible without the need for specialist access equipment.

 

Other considerations

 

Maintenance Guide:

Taking the opportunity to update an existing, or prepare a new maintenance guide for the tower block now, can save unnecessary time and expense in the future. The guide should include drawn and photographic construction records, a maintenance schedule for all the main building components, warranty information and contact details for suppliers. Having up-to-date records of any hidden construction details can help to reduce the risks in exploratory works when faults occur. Detailed photographic records can help to show how the building is ageing and allow future maintenance problems to be identified early.

 

Access Arrangements:

Creating safe access arrangements to carry out maintenance work can have significant Health and Safety implications and it is important that the accessibility of each component is thought through in relation to its likely maintenance cycle at the design stage. It is important that common repairs can be conducted without causing undue disturbance to residents, for example by creating large amounts of noise, blocking circulation areas or having to gain access to individual flats. Day-to-day maintenance can be facilitated by providing access to secure storage for maintenance and cleaning equipment, along with a water supply, at convenient locations within the common areas.

 

Benefits

  • Reduced maintenance and cleaning costs.

  • Durable materials can help to lower life-cycle environmental impacts

  • Improved quality and long-term appearance of public areas

  • Reduced Health & Safety risks

Typical Cost

Floor finish:

□  Supply & lay Linoleum 2.5mm sheet on 3mm latex: £35-£45/m2

□  Supply & lay vinyl sheet 2.5mm thick on 3mm: £33/m2

 

Skirting

□  Supply & fix linoleum skirting: £15-£19/m2

 

Wall finishes

□  Decoration with gloss paint: latex £4-£8/m2

 

Funding opportunities:
□ 

Also see:

□  Use Anti-Graffiti Coatings

□  Remove Asbestos
□  Prevent Noise pollution

More information:

□  Technology Revolutionizes the Cleaning Process

Suppliers:

□  Marmoleum

To register as a supplier click here...

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requires service providers, in this case housing associations or local authorities ‘…to take reasonable steps to remove, alter or provide reasonable means of avoiding a physical feature of their premises, which makes it unreasonably difficult or impossible for disabled people to make use of their services.’ The act is anticipatory, so in the case of tower blocks the objective would be to make a reasonable provision for disabled people who may want to visit a resident, wherever they live within the block.

 

Access Audits

Access audits are identified in the Code of Practice for Part 3 of the DDA as the best tool to deliver structured accessibility improvements. A full access audit by a registered accessibility consultant should be conducted at an early stage of the refurbishment process and an access report prepared to identify existing barriers to access and ways these can be removed. This may involve compliance with British Standard BS 8300:2001, Part M of the Building Regulations or other recognised design guidance. Consultation with local disability action groups and the local access officer can help to identify access barriers and demonstrate a commitment to achieving inclusion through the refurbishment process.

 

The following are typical barriers to access within the common areas of existing tower blocks:

 

·         Stepped access and thresholds

·         Narrow access corridors

·         Narrow door openings

·         Doors and ironmongery that are difficult to operate

·         Poor lighting and visual contrast

·         Lack of turning or passing space for wheelchair users

·         Lifts

·         Access controls

 

Other considerations

 

Access Statement

The submission of an Access Statement is now a requirement under the Building Regulations. At its simplest, this statement might record that the intention of the client, designer or design team was to comply where appropriate with the guidance in the Approved Document Part M, and to indicate in what respects it was considered appropriate. With an existing building such as a tower block where departures from Part M are likely due to existing constraints, the Access Statement should set-out the reasons for departing from the guidance and explain the rationale the behind the alternative solution adopted.

 

Managing Accessibility:

The access audit report, along with the access statement, form key documents that can demonstrate the property manager has made the appropriate efforts to meet their obligations under the DDA legislation. These documents are also essential tools for managing future accessibility and need to be reviewed at regular intervals in the light of changing needs.

 

Benefits

  • Removing barriers to access creates a more inclusive and welcoming environment

  • Improves the quality of life for all residents

  • Improves the public perception of the tower block

  • Reduces the possibility of costly legal action

Typical Cost

□  Widening of existing door way in flats will cost approximately £300 per door.

-Assuming minimum daywork rate is around £260 for 1 man team and £360 for 2men team - Other cost to consider is break out, cart away, shuttering, protection, make good, etc

Funding opportunities:
□  n/a

Also see:

□  Create an accessible entrance

More information:

□  National Register of Access Consultants
□  Centre for Accessible Environments

□  www.magda.org.uk/unidesign.html

□  www.daiwa-foundation.org.uk

□  BS 8300:2001 section 6.1 principal entrance

□  Approved Document M, Building Regulations

 

Suppliers:

□  Splicecom Ltd

To register as a supplier click here...

 

 

 

Remove Asbestos

 

In the UK, every year, thousands of people die of asbestos related illness such as, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Health and safely executive predicts that the number of deaths to rise still further.

 

A lot of the tower blocks building before the 70's where built with with asbestos in them. Asbestos was typically used in the following areas:

  • Thermal roof and wall insulation

  • Thermal insulation wrapped around hot water pipes and boilers

  • Fireproofing on metal beams, joint compound, wallboard, etc.

  • Insulation on electrical wiring

  • False ceiling tiles

  • Ventilation ducts

  • Rainwater gutters

  • Lift pads

  • Acoustical plaster

  • Textured coatings

  • Floor tiles

  • Window putty

  • Roofing felt

A lot of the existing towers still have asbestos in them, Although asbestos is potentially hazardous, but risks from it only arise when it is damaged or disturbed, releasing fibres into the air.

 

An asbestos survey must be carried out prior to any major refurbishment to ensure the asbestos if present is safely removed, sealed, enclosed or labeled appropriately.

 

Removal of asbestos obviously eliminates the hazard forever - provided it is done with the best control procedures, with competent removal experts, good supervision and a well informed workforce. But often this is not the case in practice.

 

Benefits

Typical Cost

□ Survey: £100 per 1 bed flat

□  Removal cost for floor tiles: £800 per flat

□  Air test: £100 perflat

 

Funding opportunities:
□  n/a

Also see:

□  n/a

More information:

□  Health and safely executive

Suppliers:

□  Asbestos removal agents

To register as a supplier click here...

 

Prevent Noise pollution

 

In any sort of dense residential situation adequate acoustical infiltration requires to be minimised in order to achieve a decent quality of daily life. Constant noise irritation can be disturbing and work on the sub-conscious.
Noise can arise from a variety of sources and reasons. The two main types of noise that should be tackled are the airborne noise that travels through air and the structural noise, which travels through the structure of the building such as the walls and ceilings.


Prevent noise from reaching the building: Dense structures such as compound walls, earth bunds or heavy planting will absorb noise and prevent it from reaching the main building.


Blocking noise: Airborne noise is like draught and needs to be tackled by sealing up doors, windows and other gaps in the building fabric. Sound is also re-emitted by walls and doors, which can be prevented by double-glazing windows. The larger the air gap between the two panes the better the sound absorption property. Secondary glazing instead of the conventional sealed units are more effective.

Structural noise is more difficult to reduce.


Walls: a false wall could be built by dry lining with one or two layers of acoustic plasterboard onto battens and filling the gap with acoustic quilt insulation. The plasterboard could be even more effective with a skim coat of plaster.


Floors and ceilings: Vertical noise may be prevented with false floors or ceilings. These should be as disconnected from the adjacent surface as possible. The new suspended ceiling should have a 50mm air gap between the floor above and the insulation below. A thick (100mm) layer of sound insulation, packed tight with no gaps, of two 50mm layers at right angles should be put in. All gaps around the edges of the room should be sealed with a sound-insulating mastic sealant.

Sound can also be absorbed by soft furnishings such as drapes and sofas. Carpets are better than a hard wood floor.

Other considerations


Condensation

When trying to block airborne noise by sealing doors and windows, careful consideration must be given to condensation problems that arise out of lack of ventilation. Appropriate ventilation strategies like mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and filters could be incorporated.


Ground floor
Residents living on the ground floor should ideally be moved to a higher floor and the ground floor could be used for non-residential purposes such as recreational or community meeting spaces.

 

Noise

Benefits

Typical Cost

□  Wall noise insulation: £73/m2

 -Assuming 2 layers of plasterboard (25mm thick) on timber batten; line with sheep wool insulation 60mm thick; including plaster and paint

 

Funding opportunities:
□  Noise Insulation Grant Scheme

Also see:

□  n/a

More information:

□  Defra

□  European Community

□  Decent Homes Initiative

Suppliers:

□ Rockwool International A/S

To register as a supplier click here...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Persistent graffiti vandalism is a criminal offence and can significantly reduce the perceived quality of the public areas within the tower block.

 

The priority is to make sure that the tower has good security measures to prevent graffiti vandals from entering the common areas in the first place. When graffiti vandalism does occur it is important that it is removed quickly. A quick response means that the paint will be easier to remove and the incentive to add additional graffiti reduced.

 

Smooth surfaces, finished with good quality eggshell or gloss paints, can make graffiti removal easier. Keeping spare paint available allows graffiti to be rapidly painted over, but this can result in an unsightly ‘ghosting’ where paint coverage is inadequate.

 

If Graffiti has proved to be a reoccurring problem then cleaning can be made considerably easier by applying an anti-graffiti coating. Applying a coating before graffiti occurs can reduce the cost and environmental impact of graffiti removal. A coated surface can often be cleaned quickly with water avoiding the use of aggressive paint solvents.

 

Anti-graffiti coatings are classified under two main categories:

·         Sacrificial Coatings

·         Permanent Coatings

 

Sacrificial coating:

Sacrificial coatings have a clear appearance that is hard to distinguish from untreated areas. Light graffiti can be easily washed off, but to remove stubborn graffiti the coating has to be sacrificed and the cleaned area re-coated. Sacrificial anti-graffiti coatings are more likely to be water based and biodegradable than permanent coatings.

 

Permanent coating:

Permanent coatings are more resilient and are designed to allow graffiti to be removed quickly and repeatedly. Some coatings can last as long as 10 years without renewal and are suitable for use on a wide range of surfaces. They are available in clear and coloured finishes, but even with the clear coating it is visually very obvious where the coating has been applied.

 

Other considerations

 

Choice of cleaning materials

There are a wide range of cleaning products available specifically designed to remove graffiti from building surfaces. Where these cleaning materials have to be used, if possible select a solvent-free product that is non-hazardous to human health and the environment.

 

Designated places for Graffiti

The reasons behind graffiti vandalism are complex, though it is recognised that graffiti is often intended to achieve fame, command respect or carried out simply because there is nothing else to do. In the right context, graffiti has been recognised as a valid form of artistic expression and there is some evidence that by designating places where graffiti can legally occur, such as an appropriately located graffiti wall, anti-social activity may be reduced.

 

Benefits

  • Makes graffiti removal quicker, cheaper and more effective

  • Avoids the use of environmentally damaging solvent based cleaning fluids

Typical Cost

□  Anti-graffiti paint: £15-18/m2

 

Funding opportunities:
□ 

Also see:

□  Provide vandal resistant doors

□  Concierge scheme

□  CCTV

More information:

□ Economist: Deleting graffiti 

Suppliers:

□  Eco Solutions Ltd – Graffiti Go!

To register as a supplier click here...

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

Increase lobby area

 

In many tower blocks, the existing ground floor lobby area can seem small and cramped as often the logic of the residential floors above, rather than the need to create a welcoming arrival space, has determined the plan layout. As everyone in the block uses the ground floor lobby, enlarging and improving this area can be a very cost-effective way of changing the expectations of both residents and visitors.

 

Additional ground floor lobby space can help to improve accessibility and allow room for new facilities such as a concierge or community meeting areas to be accommodated. This can be achieved either by re-planning the existing ground floor area or extending outside the footprint of the tower with a new architectural element.

 

Re-planning the ground floor

Extra space can often be added to the lobby by incorporating redundant partitioned-off areas, such as disused communal stores or drying rooms. As ground floor flats can often have security and privacy problems, particularly those nearest to the main entrance, it may be appropriate to consider losing some of the ground floor units to allow the lobby to be extended. Removing recesses at the entrance by pushing access doors out to the perimeter of the building can increase the area of the lobby and improve security.

 

Extending outside tower footprint:

Where it is a possibility from a spatial and planning perspective, extending the lobby outside the existing building footprint with a new architectural element can offer the opportunity to radically transform the appearance of the tower block. As well as providing additional area, a well-designed intervention can help to reconcile the vertical scale of the block with the scale of the entrance and the local context. Replacing an anonymous entrance and lobby area with a characterful new extension can improve orientation and create a sense of individual identity for the tower. With the appropriate use of transparency, day-lighting levels can be improved and sight-lines opened up from the lobby area improving security inside and outside the block.

 

Other considerations

 

Lobbies on upper floors:

As individual lobbies on the upper floors are generally only used by a small group of residents it is harder to justify the cost of to substantially increase the size of these areas except where accessibility is compromised by lack of space. Incorporating redundant communal storage spaces into the lobby areas can be a simple and cost-effective way to add usable space. The perceived size of the lobbies can also be increased through the use of light coloured finishes.

 

Benefits

  • Can be a cost-effective way to create a more welcoming environment for residents
  •  Enhances accessibility and security
  • Provides an opportunity to introduce new features and facilities
Typical Cost

□  This should be a core cost as part of any refurbishment i.e., £500/m2 refurbishment cost.

 

Funding opportunities:

□  n/a

Also see:

□  Provide vandal resistant doors

□  Concierge scheme

□  CCTV

More information:

□ Change flat layout

Suppliers:

□  n/a

To register as a supplier click here...

 

 

Project partners:           | Price Myers: Sustainability |Battle McCarthy | Architype | STBI | Franklin Andrews |            

           

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