Old mill buildings can offer fascinating potential for restoration and repurposing, but as by nature they are located near water sources, they can be at risk from flooding. Such was the dilemma faced by the Green Hill Outreach Trust, a Christian charity that runs a community and conference programme from the Burmington Mill, an 18th century former flour mill. In July 2007 the worst floods in the Shipston on Stour area of Warwickshire in over one hundred years washed seven feet of muddy water into the ground floor, destroying the fixtures and fittings and resulting in a major insurance claim.
The Green Hill Outreach Trust based in Burmington Mill is in a flood risk area. The ground floor has been renovated in order to be ’water-friendly’ and features de-mountable wall panels made from DuPont™ Corian® high-tech surface.
While the claim was fully settled by the insurance company, the risk factors meant that costs were bound to escalate and the centre was faced with two choices: A doubled premium with an excess of £22,000 – or renovations to make the interior of the ground floor more ‘water-friendly’ and therefore not requiring cover against flooding.
The latter seemed the most sensible and affordable choice for the charity, although it meant some careful research into the most appropriate solutions for such an adaptable design. A concept began to crystallise to create de-mountable wall-panels that could be removed in the event of a flood warning and then replaced afterwards – preferably in a sturdy material that could survive any damage should the waters rise too quickly. The answer soon presented itself in the form of DuPont™ Corian® high-tech surface.
Fran Wilson of the Green Hill Outreach Trust explains, “It was while at the Grand Designs Live exhibition in Birmingham where we looking for a ground source heating system that we first came across DuPont™ Corian® and on finding out more about this beautiful, silky-feeling, non-porous material, it became clear that it might be the ideal solution for our new wall-coverings.”
The charity began discussions with Geoff Swift, Technical Consultant at CD UK Ltd, the distributors of DuPont™ Corian® in the UK, as to whether the material was suitable for the intended use and how best to apply it. In the event of another flood it would be necessary to easily remove the panels, dry out the walls and then replace the panels quickly and easily, with a minimum of disruption to the daily life of the centre, and minimal financial implications.
Challenges included the uneven walls of the old building and the fact that the panels would have to sit above non load-bearing plinth heaters 9which can simply be hosed down and dried out after a flood), so would need to be both de-mountable and fully supported by the wall structure. Furthermore, the renovation design for the ground floor, including a new refectory, kitchen, chapel and main foyer (159 square metres in all), incorporated some curving stud walls and decorative features which would require individual customisation.
DuPont™ Corian® proved to be typically adaptable in meeting all the key requirements for this unique project. Easily workable into the size, shape and form required and being lightweight yet robust enough to serve this particular purpose, the material was fabricated into panels that were then mounted using an ingenious system of aluminium rails and ‘industrial-strength’ Velcro for rapid removal in emergencies. Each panel is numbered and cross referenced to the mounting system for equally easy replacement into the correct position.
The ground floor of Burmington Mill Christian Centre has been renovated in order to be ’flood-friendly’ and features de-mountable wall panels, plus bespoke furnishings made from DuPont™ Corian® high-tech surface.
The colour chosen for this application was Mojave, a subtle neutral tone from a carefully developed and exclusive palette for DuPont™ Corian® of over eighty choices, and the material has also been used to create bespoke furniture features in the Mojave and Medea colours, as well as seamlessly integrated worksurfaces and sinks for the refectory kitchen.
Fran Wilson continues, “We are absolutely thrilled with the choice of DuPont™ Corian® for our ‘water-friendly’ renovation. This design is not only highly practical, but also has resulted in a quiet, minimalistic elegance, which is a delight to the team and all our visitors. We are very peaceful about the possibility of any future floods, knowing that our key fixtures, fittings and equipment – including cookers and fridges on wheels - are easily movable, and that as soon as any flood water abates, we can dry out and get back to normal as soon as possible, with minimal costs for restoration. We would very strongly recommend this use of DuPont™ Corian® to any business in a flood area, it really is a fantastic solution.”