Employer: BAM

Project: The German Gymnasium, London N1

The rare arched and bolt-timber laminated trussed roof of this Victorian building presented David Packham with his project triumph. The scheme aimed to reveal the roof in all its glory from inside the building by removing the first floor that obscured it and replacing its felt with Welsh slate. It was David’s recognition of how the structure worked originally and his ability to identify the risks that delivered success.

Investigations suggested the original slate had been removed for fear of overloading the trusses. Reapplying that load required an engineering solution to maintain structural stability. David argued against bolting steel plates to the sides of the trusses or inserting steel posts into the external walls as unsightly or requiring significant demolition to external facades.

Instead, he devised a slender stainless-steel tie-rod to span the roof. This was supported by equally slim rods dropped from cast-iron hooks in the trusses that were originally used by gymnasts to secure their equipment. Barely visible, they ensured structural integrity with minimal intervention and also provided a track for lighting. David’s solution retained the original look and feel of an aesthetically pleasing interior at less cost than any of the alternative solutions proposed.

Beyond this, David brought his own experience as a skilled craftsman to bear, along with his knowledge of listed structures and management know-how. The site had virtually no storage or delivery space, and room for just one day’s worth of steel for the erection of a significant internal steel frame and columns. His tight control of deliveries and waste clearance kept trades coordinated and sustained project momentum to a superb conclusion.

The brilliant quality and the bringing in of this project on budget and on time have all strengthened a crucial set of relationships for BAM in the King’s Cross redevelopment. David’s retention by the client on the £80m Coal Drops Yard project is a powerful sign of the trust and goodwill he has generated.