Flat roofs

by Nick 15. February 2012 22:39

Flat roofs

Q. We live in Heswall, Wirral. Our master bedroom looks out onto a flat roof extension. We are aware that the roof is nearing the end of its useful life. Are there any options to improve the appearance of the flat roof and / or prolong its life?

A. We receive many queries regarding the appearance and life span of flat roofs. The same principles apply to new builds, extensions and refurbishments.

 

In the past flat roofs have received a bad reputation due to poor detailing, construction and the use of unsuitable products.

 

With advances in the technology and construction the life expectancy of a flat roof has increased and insurance backed warranties of 15, 20 and even 25 years are now available, provided an approved installer is used.

 

The use of flat roofs on extensions and new builds should not be dismissed based on past reputations. They can offer the most appropriate aesthetic design solution, particularly for single storey buildings. The detailing and construction is key to their success.

 

We usually provide a parapet wall to the roof edge. This gives a clean line avoiding unsightly views of the gutters and roof membranes from outside the property.

 

If the roof is to be viewed from windows above it is possible to make a new or existing flat roof ascetically pleasing in a number of ways:-

 

1.      Green roofs come in various forms, the simplest of which is a sedum blanket rolled over the roof.

This provides an attractive finish. Sedum plants do not grow too high, the roof does not become overgrown and maintenance is minimal. A green roof system also improves the insulating properties of the roof and protects the roof from damage. This increases the predicted life expectancy of the membrane. I have heard manufacturers predict a life expectancy of 60 years although they are unable to prove this at this stage.

www.bauder.co.uk and www.protan.co.uk are useful sources on information on flat and green roofs.

 

2.      Convert the roof into a terrace. Deck or pave over the roof to provide and interesting outdoor space. Access and edge protection will need to be provided.

 

3.      Installing a roof lantern will transform a room. When viewed from above it also reduces the expanse of roof finish and allows interesting views into other parts of the property.

 

4.      Changing the roof to a pitched roof may, in some circumstances be more visually appropriate. The chosen finish (tile, slate, sheet metal) will dictate the required pitch and consideration must be given to any first floor windows.

 

When changes are made to an existing roof consideration will need to be given to the details and any structural implications. There may also be Planning / Building Regulations requirements.

Always use a reputable installer and obtain a warrantee.

 

 green roof with roof lanterns

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Stunning roof lights and lanterns

by Nick 11. February 2012 11:00

We have recently installed a VISION roof light to a flat roof kitchen extension in Heswall. The product installed is a pitched, silicone jointed, frameless roof light. The roof light was cost effective and simple to install and the effects are stunning. Consider installing them in existing flat roofs to throw light into dark areas. For more traditional customers VISION also provide framed roof lanterns.

For more information visit www.visionrooflights.co.uk

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Liverpool World Heritage Status - UNESCO report

by Nick 9. February 2012 22:58

Is Liverpool’s World Heritage Status stifling development of the City?

 

In November 2011 UNESCO sent a team of inspectors to Liverpool amid concerns that the proposed Liverpool Waters development, submitted for Planning Approval by Peel Holdings, will have a negative impact on the World Heritage Site.

 

The Liverpool waterfront was awarded World Heritage status in 2004. It is one of 28 sites on the World Heritage list in the UK and 936 worldwide.

 

UNESCO have now published their report suggesting that the World Heritage site will be irreversibly damaged’ by the proposals, if modifications are not made to the submitted scheme. They seem particularly concerned that the high rise buildings to the North and the proposed Shanghai Tower will move the visual emphasis away from the Three Graces and overshadow the Heritage Site.

 

The City of Liverpool is justifiably proud of the World Heritage Status it currently holds and, no doubt, benefits from increased tourism as a result. However it is entirely possible that this status could restrict the City’s long-term development due to the intervention of UNESCO teams who have a limited understanding of the City.

 

Liverpool has already fallen victim to concerns over the impact of development on the World Heritage site. One Park West (Liverpool One), designed by world-renowned architect Caesar Pelli, was reduced in height and changed in proportion amid concerns that the building was too high and would impact on the World Heritage site. This significantly compromised the design of a building that had the potential to be a true landmark.  I’m sure that all those involved in the decision to adjust its proportions will look back with regret over a missed opportunity.

 

We should learn from this lesson and not let the same happen with Liverpool Waters. Peel Holdings are presenting Liverpool with its greatest opportunity in over a century.

The proposals represent a £6 Billion investment in Liverpool, £10 Billion when combined with the approved Wirral Waters, over a period of 30 years. The proposals will not only transform the area visually but will also create thousands of jobs. Peel has worked closely with Liverpool City Council Planning department and English Heritage to produce a scheme that all parties agree on. In the course of negotiations the scheme has already been reduced. Further compromise, as a knee jerk reaction to the UNESCO inspectors report, could result in a half-baked scheme and another missed opportunity for the City to have international impact.

 

The UNESCO report does not go as far as suggesting that the World Heritage Status will be removed if the proposals in their current form were approved. Surly the City should stand firm and support the Application without any further dilution.

 

Q. Will UNESCO remove the status if Planning is approved? A. Probably not.

 

Q. Would it matter if they did? A. Probably not - Liverpool will be more capable of standing on its own if the development goes ahead.

 

Q. Will Peel take their investment elsewhere? A. If they were forced to reduce the proposals further, would you blame them? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Belderbos 

architects-direct.com

Feb 2012

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