Structural News

Filament Structure close to nature

We are loving the Elytra Filament pavilion structure being pioneered by
the University of Stuttgart that are pioneering the integration of biomimicry, robotic fabrication and new materials research in architecture.

The pavilion explored the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making.

Its design is inspired by lightweight construction principles found in nature, the filament structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra. Made of glass and carbon fibre, each component of the undulating canopy is produced using an innovative robotic winding technique developed by the designers. Like beetle elytra, the pavilion’s filament structure is both very strong and very light – spanning over 200m2 it weighs less than 2,5 tonnes. See video on web link for details.

Eagle House Wimbledon Village now completed

Very pleasing to see our project at Eagle House High Street Wimbledon Village completed.


Harrodian School, Barnes, London SW13

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A single storey mansard structure extension over the entire footprint of the existing main school buildings, creating 1,115m2 (approximately 12,002 square foot) of additional classrooms for the school.

The construction works were undertaken in phases, whilst the classrooms carried on as normal and around the school curriculum.  The total project cost is in the region of £2.5M.

The mansard structures were designed in rigid steelwork frames with timber decking infill for the new floor and roof.

The new structures were set above the existing flat roof, such that no interruption was encountered during the works.

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Grand Designs LIVE a Great Success

The Grand Designs Live show at Excel was a great success with professions from all over the world.

Simon Pole had a full schedule as an “Ask the Expert” and discussed all manor of design enquiries including new homes with  basements and even a 20m high, brick built octagonal chimney for a property in Norway.


If you would like to receive any structural advice or have a property you would like us to visit, please contact us here at the office on 020 8944 9955



Simon Pole Institution Of Structural Engineer lecture

Simon Pole presented a new paper on party walls and engineering matters to The Institution of Structural Engineers South East Counties AGM.

Simon previously spoke at the Institution Of Structural Engineer event for the Management of existing  structures event. He delivered a presentation about Party Wall matters and how this impacts on the management of structures adjacent to major building work. The slides from the talk are located within the “technical” section of the website.

‘RBKC stop illegal basement’


Unauthorised basement excavation halted by planners

Planners from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have ordered the owner of 77 Stanhope Mews East, SW7, to stop an unauthorised basement excavation or face prosecution.

The Council received reports from members of the public that the owner was preparing to carry out excavation works inside the property. Planning Enforcement Officers visited the site and warned the owner that legal action would be taken if excavation began without planning permission.

Despite numerous warnings a visit by an enforcement officer, on 20 August, confirmed excavation work had begun. The concrete floor had been broken and two large holes had been excavated which were two metres deep. The spoil that had been dug out was piled up at the side of the holes. As a result the Council’s Planning Enforcement Team issued a Temporary Stop Notice on Tuesday 26 August to halt the unauthorised basement development. If works continue the owner will commit a criminal offence which could lead to a maximum penalty of £20,000 in a magistrates court and unlimited if heard in a crown court.

Cllr Timothy Coleridge, Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, said: “The Royal Borough will not tolerate developers who ignore planning law. Hopefully the property owner now ceases these excavation works but, if not, our Planning Enforcement Team will use all available legal powers to protect residents from this unauthorised development.”

Basement developments can have a big impact on the lives of neighbouring residents which is why a number of planning conditions are attached to grants of planning permission to mitigate this. Any unauthorised basement extension is of concern because planners will not have had the opportunity to assess the impact the development will have on the local area.

Basement Risks

A report by CROSS (Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety) has reported concerns regarding poor health and safety practice during retrofit basements.  They report:-


A reporter is concerned about the construction of some basement in London.  He has reviewed two projects covering basement works in relation to Building Regulation checks on the structural aspects.

The following characteristics were seen by the reporter:

  • they were probably two projects with the least percentage of costs spent on architectural and structural design that he has come across in three decades of practice,
  • there was a definite danger to the builder, based on the submitted designs,
  • they were very likely to cause major problems for the neighbours,
  • It was suspected that the works would be outside the competency of all parties, and this included the client and the Building Inspector.

After the reporter expressed concern he said that the projects were passed to another engineer.

The increase in major or complex basement constructions in London in particular is a concern as the implications do not always appear to be appreciated by those involved. Such projects may not be ‘building work’ but ‘construction projects’, with an attendant necessary increase in competency.

Indeed it has also been reported that in London basements under terraced houses are being constructed without any engineering input and no regard to the Party Wall Act, ground water movement, or the effect on neighbouring dwellings. Danger during construction is beyond the scope of  Building Control, but it is essential that this is considered during the process.  There are usually understandings  between Building Control and HSE such that once a project gets underway on site unsafe actions are referred to HSE.

The aim however should be intercept these projects prior to construction and perhaps this report reinforces the need for licensing certain types of work.  It is to be hoped that available guidance would be consulted or competent specialists brought in as required.  Competency of those in the chain of responsibility is very important and features in many reports to CROSS about failures.  “Simplifying design and construction” from the Basement Information Centre gives general advice and is soon to be updated.

Basements are the new loft conversion

Basements are clearly the new loft conversion.  Everyone is digging down!  Great way to gain extra space.

See Projects Residential for further details

Structural survey enquiries from home-owners and purchasers

The housing market is thriving in London and the Home Counties.   We are currently busy with lots of survey enquiries from home-owners and purchasers.


Community Projects

We are involved in community projects currently helping local schools with projects ranging from library refurbishments to new buildings.

Institution Reviews

Each year Simon Pole donates time to the Institution of Structural Engineers to help prospective Chartered Engineers prepare for their final exams.

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Tel: 020 8944 9955