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Complementing the traditional

    Wednesday, 26 April 2017 12:55  Interiors
Complementing the traditional
Ambassador Bronze Antique sockets with black interiors

A blank page. Many interior projects begin this way, a blank canvas ready to appropriate colours, fabrics and a variety of design concepts. But what happens when that canvas isn't blank? Conservation of buildings of exceptional interest presents perhaps one of the bigger challenges. Electrical installations have to conform to Building Regulations and potentially other statutory requirements, as well as having to respect the character of the building. One such challenge for Focus SB came in the form of one of the famous Royal Palaces. Following The Wild, The Beautiful and The Damned, exhibition of September 2012, the Historic Royal Palaces charity saw a rare window of opportunity to undertake some much-needed re-wiring in the Queen's State Apartments at Hampton Court Palace. The Grade I status of Hampton Court Palace meant the refurbishment had to be completed with minimal disturbance to the interior. Time was taken to painstakingly thread cable from one room to the next by going up three storeys and down again to avoid making fresh insertions into the walls. Pre-existing channels and conduits were carefully followed from lamp to socket to switch.

"Using purpose-built tooling Focus SB engineered a plate to the precise dimensions specified"

It was imperative that changes to the external face would need to match the existing interior decor. Project manager, Harry Brimmel, stated: "You simply cannot drill through walls here." The wiring fed a selection of oversized sockets set into the antique floor and skirting, which presented Brimmel and his team with a unique challenge. Replacing the skirting is out of the question in a Grade 1 listed building, the cut out was simply too big to house the standard 86mm x 86mm sized modern sockets. Seeking a solution, Brimmel was tasked with researching and sourcing a suitable manufacturer with sophisticated-enough precision engineering and in-house finishing capabilities to produce wiring accessories fit for a historic building conservation project. He approached Focus SB to make a sample for approval by English Heritage (now known as Historic England).

Using purpose-built tooling Focus SB engineered a plate to the precise dimensions specified by Brimmel and his team. A brass hinge and lid was fabricated then coated in an electrophoretic primer ready for painting on site. The engineering team then set to work on a unique back box that would allow the plate to sit slightly back into the wall so that when the lid closed it would sit flush to the skirting. Following the same process for the floor sockets, a beautiful brushed bronze finish was selected to complement the warm colours and ornate splendour of the Queen's State Apartments. Harry Brimmel commented: "The amount of work that went into this simple job is incredible. Focus SB were good to us; they were patient and empathetic to our requirements. This was a very particular job and they never promised more than they could deliver." Focus SB have worked on interiors from the grand to the humble, and from the modern to the classical, working closely with clients to create hand crafted, luxurious electrical accessories fit to adorn the walls of any building, anywhere in the world. Discover more about protection and restoration of historic architecture and electrical installations in heritage buildings at The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) charity, founded by William Morris in 1877.

Primed and Painted socket in skirting, Ambassador Bronze Antique floor socket

Ambassador Bronze Antique switch

Concealed socket in skirting, primed and painted to match wall colouring