Why Is Raised Access Flooring Used In Listed Buildings?

Over the past few years, new-builds and commercial buildings have moved away from modular two-tier ceilings in favour of robust raised access flooring, and the benefits have been somewhat remarkable.

A raised access system made up of a grid of load-bearing panels supported by robust pedestals has become standard issue in many industries, particularly those that rely a lot on utilities that need to be frequently monitored, updated and expanded.

They are sometimes even known as “computer floors” because of just how important they are for cable management in server rooms, but offices, libraries and even retail stores often take advantage of the space-saving and floor-evening benefits of raised access.

However, the versatility of raised flooring has also created a rather unusual use case in the form of listed building refurbishment.

Standing On Top Of History

Owning a listed building, like owning any other piece of history, is something that provides a lot of pride and privilege but also quite considerable responsibility to act as a conscientious steward.

Listed buildings have the advantage of being very historically significant, fascinating and often aesthetically pleasing, but preserving that character is not just a commercial and moral imperative but a legal one.

There is a requirement to preserve the historic character of the building, which is typically clearly defined in its public listing but often includes original fixtures, fittings, pieces of architectural interest and any other unusual characteristics that make it historically important.

This can include the walls and the floor, which can pose a problem for some building owners if they do not like the design or want to find a way to preserve and protect it.

A common way to do so is to fit raised flooring and wall facades in order to have a more consistent modern design but also preserve the original antique design underneath it.

This allows the building to be used for more versatile purposes but allows for these original features to be unearthed if a new owner desires to.

It works as the best of both worlds and the rules and regulations surrounding listed building preservation are constructed with the understanding that buildings will change and evolve all the time.

Whilst there are responsibilities building owners have, they are not expected to stop the passage of time and the best way to preserve a historic building is to continue to use it.

This stops buildings from falling into disrepair, decay and potentially losing their listed building status, as has tragically happened in the past with a number of country houses that have been left abandoned, scarring British heritage in the process.

This is why there is considerable leeway for adding semi-permanent features, although this will typically be undertaken with the collaboration not only with flooring experts who specialise in raised access but also heritage experts who understand the tolerances that ancient flooring can take without significant and permanent damage.

It is not always required if a listed building does not have protected flooring, nor is it always the optimal solution, but it allows for a lot of versatility when it comes to design and restoration.

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