Construction students’ behind-the-scenes look at Royal Palace Reborn project
Construction firm Morgan Sindall has given a group of Higher Education students from City College Norwich a close-up look at the multi-million pound project to transform Norwich Castle.
The Royal Palace Reborn project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage fund, will see the 900-year-old castle keep's medieval floors and rooms rebuilt to reflect how it would have looked in Norman times.
In addition to recreating the castle’s appearance from the period when it was a royal palace, the £13.5M project will also improve the accessibility of Norwich Castle and enable it to accommodate greater visitor numbers.
HND Construction and the Built Environment students, on Construction Management and Civil Engineering pathways, were given a tour of the works by Senior Site Manager Rob Hamilton.
Mr Hamilton talked the students though the many added considerations that go into a major redevelopment of a building that is both Grade 1 listed and a scheduled monument.
A vast amount of steelwork has been brought into the castle keep for constructing the new floors and creating a lift shaft. Mr Hamilton described how a crane has been used to bring in these materials, because the bridge to the castle has insufficient weight-bearing capacity.
He also explained how specialist heritage construction expertise, including the use of stonemasons and off-site work to restore mosaic floors, is helping to ensure that the finished build will showcase as much of the architectural history of Norwich Castle as possible.
Anna Hare, Course Leader, HND Construction & the Built Environment, commented:
Our HND students are employed in various roles within construction, coming to college one day a week to extend their knowledge in either Construction Management or Civil Engineering. As such, they already possess a wealth of construction knowledge and experience.
However, few of them have ever seen anything like the Royal Palace Reborn project or encountered the sorts of technical and project management challenges that we have learnt about on this visit. Our thanks to Matthew Bidwell, Rob Hamilton and Morgan Sindall for giving us the opportunity to learn from such a unique and prestigious project.”
One of the HND students who took part in the site visit was James Ellis, who said:
I think the most interesting part is how the castle has been built over the years, in three stages, in three different time periods. So the project team are having to think about the material used most recently, and the material from the period before that, and then the earliest materials that were used.”
Whilst her day-to-day work is mostly in housebuilding, fellow HND student Olivia Eaves added that a major heritage construction project is “something to do at least once in your life”. Olivia continues:
It was really interesting to learn about the planning that’s gone into everything with this project. Every detail has been thought out. There’s been a huge amount of consideration given to each bit of the building. They’ve really put the building first.”