Me and my project: National Museum of Wales

Stuart Brown FCIOB on roof work at a Grade I-listed project by WRW Construction.

I was delighted to learn that we’d been awarded the essential maintenance works contract at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. One of my first projects as an assistant site manager was on this fantastic Grade I-listed building and it was great to return some 15 years later with WRW Construction.

This time around, however, the challenges were greater, and it wasn’t just working around Dippy’s short stay during his national tour of British museums, or the Da Vinci exhibition. In a relatively short period we’ve lived through Brexit, Storms Ciara and Dennis, and are currently navigating the challenges that the global covid-19 pandemic has presented us with as we move towards completion.

The works focused on the repair and replacement of defective roof coverings, rooflights and associated areas, together with the items of work within the spaces beneath in 45 weeks. WRW Construction had to ensure that the museum remained open to the public throughout, without compromising the visitor experience – and that there was no risk to the public or any of the collections.

Our approach to planning this project was uncompromising: we didn’t take any chances in relation to water ingress or Joint Fire Code compliance and worked closely with our partners at LT Scaffold Services to develop a complex temporary works solution to encapsulate the work areas.

CIOB CEO Caroline Gumble (centre) visited the site last November

One of the biggest challenges we had to overcome was how to erect such a large sheeted structure without physical ties, but we achieved it. The scaffold was restrained through buttressing and 1,000kg kentledge loads per bay, which supported a 750mm alloy spine beam spanning the width of the museum. The Asterix HD 1330 temporary roofing system was secured to the scaffolding and the spine beam.

Once we had encapsulated the roof areas, we set about the works in accordance with our Safe Systems of Work and in collaboration with all project stakeholders, ensuring the works were completed to the satisfaction of Cadw, which works to protect the historic buildings of Wales.

Many challenges presented themselves, such as finding a tradesman that could manufacture lead rainwater pipes to match the existing ones.

“WRW Construction had to ensure the museum remained open to the public throughout, without compromising the visitor experience.”

Stuart Brown, WRW Construction

In November 2019 we were delighted to be visited by CIOB CEO Caroline Gumble. It was great to introduce WRW Construction and review the project with her and members from the Wales Hub, sharing our experiences.

Upon reflection, I’m glad that we remained uncompromising in our approach to risk, considering the events that presented themselves after the works commenced. It was a pleasure to be involved with such a high-profile project on such an important building in Cardiff.

Stuart Brown is operations director at WRW Construction, which is a CIOB Training Partner

Story for CM? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in Technical