How do you solve the problem of restrictions on floor height in an historic, listed building when underfloor heating has been specified as part of a £5.5 million restoration project?
The answer at Durlston Castle was to install electrical underfloor heating from Speedheat in two cloakrooms and the Belvedere viewing room where visitors can take in spectacular views of Dorset’s Jurassic coast.
The restoration of the extraordinary Grade 2 listed Victorian castle, now the Gateway Centre for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, involved a mix of traditional and modern construction methods to ensure its original beauty was retained while creating a visitor-friendly facility.
Explained Rob Hooker, managing director of main contractor Greendale Construction: “There were many conservation issues that had to be considered. Among them were restrictions on the floor height in the Belvedere and cloakrooms where underfloor heating was to be installed.
“A wet system of hot water pipes would have involved raising the floor level by some 75mm which in turn would have meant introducing steps and ramps, detracting from the original look of the castle.
“But the Speedheat electrical system is only a 2mm mat deep overlaid with a thin latex screed and the final floor covering, so there was no noticeable increase in floor height.”
Speedheat engineers installed the system and screed in just a couple of days, ready to finish with carpet in the Belvedere and quarry tiles in the cloakrooms.
Durlston Castle near Swanage is owned by Dorset County Council and is an integral part of the Durlston Country Park and national nature reserve, which attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year. A substantial part of the funding for the restoration came from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Among the first visitors to appreciate the comfort of warmth from the floor up while admiring the 360-degree panoramic view from the Belvedere was Princess Anne when she officially opened the restored castle.