Fountain House, Donegall Place, Belfast

Doran Consulting was appointed to provide structural engineering design advice in relation to the renovation of the 5-storey Fountain House, situated on one of Belfast city centre’s main shopping streets, Donegall Place.

The project required complete replacement of the internal fabric of the building but retention of the external façade which has listed status. The lower columns of the façade had to be removed because they were set back from the elevation. This led to a requirement for vertical, as well as the normal lateral, support to the façade. The retention system, in place for almost one year, was supported on a piled substructure and provided support for the masonry façade at each floor level.

Access to the site was limited to a single storey height opening at each end of the building. This was insufficient access for the normal bored piling rigs, meaning that a low vibration, driven solution was required. With the façade retention frame dismantled, the listed façade effectively hangs from the new steel frame. The scheme was completed with virtually no damage to the existing masonry.

This project was a highly complex one, requiring very innovative and complicated solutions to challenging problems. The project was completed on a very restricted site in the very busy city centre location. Much of the work was completed at night to avoid disruption to adjacent properties. The design was strongly influenced by the restrictions imposed by the location and dealing with the listed façade.