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A landmark with cultural and historical influence, The Harris Museum, founded in 1882, is located in Preston, Lancashire and focuses on developing services to enrich lives through heritage and the arts. The building's neoclassical design, which reflects 19th-century architecture, is undergoing a significant refurbishment to improve accessibility and enhance the internal circulation of the Grade I listed building.

The Harris Museum's existing library and galleries are undergoing restoration. Aligned with the Reimagining the Harris vision, this cultural development project aims to create a dynamic and inclusive space for the community in Preston and Lancashire. The plan includes a comprehensive refurbishment scheme for the entire building, encompassing the library, office spaces, café, and shops. The building spans five storeys, including a basement, ground floor, and three upper levels.

Jensen Hughes carried out a fire strategy development to support the refurbishment works to comply with current standards and regulations. The existing and historic nature of the building meant that full compliance with standard code guidance was not possible, and therefore, the fire strategy was developed adopting a performance based fire-engineering approach. The remodel work designed by Buttress Architects includes removing the existing lightwell stairs serving the basement, providing a new protected stair in the Southeast corner, adding an evacuation lift and ‘changing places’, providing retail and café space on the ground floor as well as significant refurbishments to the public galleries and stores throughout the building.

Our team also inspected the fire doors and reduced the number of existing doors needed replacement and designed the fire compartmentation strategy in order to preserve the existing historic doors in the public gallery areas.

After receiving authorities' approval for the fire strategy, we collaborated closely with the team of architects and various stakeholders to ensure the safe implementation of the refurbishment for this museum, which aims to become a community hub for Preston and Lancashire.

Timothy Joel, Head of Culture at Preston City Council, stated that "Jensen Hughes provided professional and competent assistance to Preston City Council in the fire engineering development for the refurbishment of our historic building. Their expertise in balancing architectural preservation with safety requirements was evident throughout the project. Their solutions were thorough, and their approach was proactive. Preston City Council acknowledges Jensen Hughes for their contribution to Harris Museum and looks forward to working with them in the near future."

Project Details

Project Owner

Preston City Council


Buttress Architects

Estimated Project Cost

£16 million





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