Journal of Architectural Conservation


Volume 14, Issue 3, November 2009


Scaffolding Historic Buildings  

Ed Morton


Paper Summary

This paper outlines some of the common issues which arise when considering the scaffolding for historic buildings. It discusses the benefits of having the scaffold pre-designed and some of the practical aspects which should be considered. The scaffolding for the Phase 2 repairs at Stowe House is provided as a case study.


Scaffolding historic buildings, as part of a repair contract, warrants careful consideration. Such scaffold arrangements can often be complex, and having the scaffold designed prior to tendering or contracting the work, can significantly reduce the risk of damage to the fabric of the building and begin to quantify costs and likely programming issues for the design team and contractors. It is, however, important to be clear on contractual responsibilities for the design when it comes to the construction stage.


Scaffolding of buildings has always been necessary. In medieval times it simply took the form of a timber structure tied into the masonry as the building was erected (Figure 1), and is often evidenced now by putlog holes. Indeed, over much of the world this form of scaffolding is still utilized, but often with unbraced metal tubes in basic form (Figure 2). However, in the UK and other developed countries, where health and safety requirements are much more stringent, the expectation is of more regularized scaffold, in metal tube (steel or aluminium) with fittings, but erected and maintained to a set of current design standards.



Figure 1 Timber scaffold (c.1550).


















Figure 9 Crane lifting trusses into position (Mark Hammond).
















Ed Morton B.Eng (Hons), C.Eng, MICE, IHBC

Ed Morton is Managing Director of The Morton Partnership Ltd, structural engineers who work extensively on historic buildings throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. Ed is Engineer to Canterbury Cathedral and is also working at York Minster on the York Minster Revealed Project. Other notable projects include Stowe House, St George’s Hall, the Palace of Westminster, Wollaton Hall as well as numerous National Trust properties. 



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