The scaffold structure surrounding Clandon Park

Nathan Buckell, Project Building Surveyor Nathan Buckell Project Building Surveyor
The west front and porte cochere surrounded by scaffolding

During the early stages of our project at Clandon Park the need for scaffolding fast became a priority. A massive free-standing scaffold structure with a retractable roof is now complete, entirely surrounding the building to keep it safe from the Great British weather and allowing us to continue our important work.

In the months immediately after the fire, our first priority was to check that the building was structurally sound. Our engineers made sure that all high level debris including timbers and steelwork was carefully removed, braces were in place where needed, and that there was no loose brickwork or plaster.  
Since then we’ve been working on the design and implementation of the enormous scaffolding cocoon that now surrounds the house. We needed a scaffold that not only kept the weather out, but also facilitated good access for site workers, archaeologists, salvage teams and the giant cranes used to lift the largest pieces of debris out of the house. Once designs had been readied, work began on building the scaffold in the summer and it’s now complete.
A bird's eye view of the scaffold roof courtesy of Ideal Scaffolding
A bird's eye view of the scaffold roof at Clandon Park
A bird's eye view of the scaffold roof courtesy of Ideal Scaffolding

The scaffolding has been designed as a permanent structure with tolerances built in for snow and wind loading, it even has rain gutters. Due to its size and the length of time it’s going to be in place, it has been built with entirely new steel tubes. The structure is free standing rather than being tied to the building, instead it’s weighted down with 400 tonnes of concrete kentledge or ballast.
A gap of 20 to 30mm left between the scaffold and the house allows the scaffold to shift small amounts over time and in windy conditions whilst preventing any further damage to the walls that it surrounds. The special roof covering acts like a roller blind, allowing us to peel individual sections back so that we can still gain access to the house using our cranes.
Normally when we use scaffolding we work on one section of a building at a time but in this case we needed to wrap an entire mansion, so we needed vast quantities of materials to get the job done. If you were to take all of the scaffold tubes and place them end to end they’d stretch for 32 miles taking you from Clandon, east to Sevenoaks in Kent, south to Brighton, or straight up through the stratosphere and into the lower levels of the mesosphere.
The scaffold structure viewed across the east lawn
The east side of the scaffold structure
The scaffold structure viewed across the east lawn

In addition to the tubes themselves around 1,600 metres of beam work, 45,000 fittings, 8,500 bungees, 4,500 flame retardant boards and 3,600 square metres of monoflex were used to complete the structure. The footprint of the scaffold is similar to half a football pitch, the total volume is roughly equivalent to two Olympic sized swimming pools and, if you laid the scaffold wrap out on the ground, you’d cover about an acre of land. 
Our scaffold is an important tool helping to safeguard and rebuild an architectural masterpiece. For the time being though, when you look carefully at the complex geometric patterns and silver grids, it impresses in its own right. A feat of engineering that could even be looked at as beautiful.

Scaffolding goes up to repair Clandon Park

Built to protect our house and enable safe access for our site workers, the huge scaffolding structure is now complete. Take a timelapse look at several months of hard work and planning, in the space of 60 seconds.