People News

Our People: Amy Punter.

18/08/2020

Preserving historically significant architecture.

Amy is a senior associate based in our London office.

I got into engineering…

…as I didn’t know what to do with my maths and physics A-levels! Originally, I started on an automotive engineering degree at Leeds (mainly because I liked the idea of competing in the Formula Student race), however after realising I wasn’t as passionate as I previously thought about cars, I changed to mechanical engineering – this thankfully turned out to be the right choice.

My role at Hoare Lea…

…is incredibly varied. I am a team and project lead, but also like being involved in the development of the next generation of engineers, which I am able to do by being an IPD scheme mentor, a work experience facilitator, and by interviewing future graduates.

Some of my favourite projects have been Old Admiralty Building, Rugby Radio School and the University of Greenwich.

I am interested in…

…the refurbishments of buildings, and in particular those of historical significance, as history was a subject I always enjoyed and it’s great to be able to integrate this into my day job. I work closely with architects to understand and appreciate the various features of the buildings and why I must play my part in protecting them.

I find the challenge and variety of problems provided by refurbishment projects interesting. The discoveries, ‘known unknowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’ present a tangible challenge on each project that the project team need to work together efficiently and effectively to overcome. This process often requires some creative thinking which adds another enjoyable dimension to the experience.

Refurbishing buildings is important…

…as we need to reuse what we already have as part of the effort and drive to reduce carbon emissions. When you think of a refurbishment, it can be anything from a 300-year-old palace through to a post-modern office building and beyond to even more modern buildings. As listed building classification is beginning to focus not only on the more traditional ‘heritage’ buildings but also the more recently constructed, the challenges of these refurbishment projects continue to grow and evolve.

My work in refurbishments includes working around 200-year-old, thick concrete walls and full-height glazing scenarios built at the very end of the 20th century, both with unique challenges in terms of reducing carbon emissions.

We need to think differently…

…when conducting a refurbishment.

When building from scratch, you can (to a degree of course) design to your heart’s content and meet modern expectations. When repurposing a building, you need to work around protected spaces, within existing constraints and think outside of the box.

For example, the corridors in Old Admiralty Building were unusually wide. They once housed the messengers and runners who used to transfer messages between the Admiralty Officers around the building (this was long before the invention of te fax machine, let alone e-mail!). Given their historical significance, the corridors presented a particular challenge when it came to determining the services distribution routes around the building.

We had to minimise the services that ran through the corridors and opted to instead run them through the offices. This was an unusual approach and somewhat the opposite to anticipated ‘norms’ in workplace design, but it allowed us to protect an important heritage feature.

Compared to new builds…

…overall carbon emissions are more often now found to be lower in refurbishments as there is simply less structure to build from scratch, thus inherently reducing the embodied carbon from the outset. That being said, it is important to note that a larger proportion of a refurb’s emissions arise from its building services.

As more projects strive to meet the latest carbon targets, we’re faced with a challenge as there is a lack of readily available embodied carbon information for the building services equipment.

In heritage and refurbishment projects, it is the performance of the building fabric that is usually an unknown and we are looking to work with architects to introduce surveys to better understand this. It’s an interesting time to be involved in these studies and it will be fascinating to see how the design of building services evolves in the next five to 10 years.

In my spare time…

…I run (but only to try and keep vaguely fit… I don’t actually like it very much!), and ski / snowboard in the winter (which I do definitely like)

I love to socialise – spending my Saturday afternoon in a nice pub is generally my favourite place to be.