Midlands & East Anglia

Out with the old and in with the new

A huge refurbishment project has transformed a derelict building in Great Yarmouth into the state-of-the-art Phoenix House primary and community healthcare centre.

R.G Carter was the main contractor and Chaplin Farrant was the architect for the project, which was completed in September 2011.

Unfortunately, the earlier 19th Century school house building on the site was destroyed in a fire in 1999 leaving a substantial external shell. This had become overgrown with vegetation over the following decade, so the building needed to be completely cleared of this and extensive fire-damaged materials before construction could commence. Once the building had been cleared, an extra storey was built on top and a new roof was installed.

Although no landscaping has taken place given the close proximity of a large public car park, the development does feature a small courtyard with planters and bird boxes. In order to achieve the required BREEAM standard, an extensive programme of ecology research was carried out and the centre has also incorporated sustainable features such as photovoltaic cells on the roof.

Now operating as a fully functional primary healthcare centre, the development also features a walk-in facility that offers care from 8am to 8pm every day of the week, including Christmas Day.

Gitte Kjeldsen Highland, Chaplin Farrant, said:

“This was a challenging project as we had to respect the traditional style of the existing building whilst updating it in order to facilitate the change in use. We therefore tried to replicate some of the original features, such as the sash windows, whilst adhering to modern requirements like insulation levels.

“Making sure that the building was structurally sound was an initial priority, particularly as it had fallen into such a state of disrepair. The building is also in a conservation area, so we had to make sure that it sat well within the existing surroundings.

“A particularly interesting aspect for us is the way in which we have been able to integrate a modern building within a traditional build. We ultimately chose not to follow the more common method of simply modernising an existing building and have instead combined the two eras.

“In general, the project progressed very well. There are always snags and the unexpected when working on a building but a collective team effort ensured that all challenges were overcome.

“This was a fun project to have been involved with and it was very exciting to see the finished building. Phoenix House will help to bring that part of Yarmouth back to life whilst serving an important community purpose.”


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