UCL Observatory Refurbishment

Case study

UCL Observatory Refurbishment

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The Observatory was opened as the University of London Observatory in 1929. Since 1951, it has been exclusively managed by University College London and used to teach first and third year undergraduate students. The observatory today is well equipped with five permanently mounted telescopes.

Our works also included; upgrades to the existing services, internal decorations, improvements to rainwater drainage and re-lining of the Allen dome concrete gutter as well as minor repairs to the walls and floor of the Allen dome generally.

The new dome was shipped from America and Sykes were responsible for removing and disposing of the old Allen dome, assisting in the assembly of the new dome, fitting the new track and the craning/installation of the new Allen dome.

Our in-house carpenters and labourers had to ensure adequate protection to the areas immediately surrounding the work areas, wooden floors and box-in the telescope internally. These carpenters are often used within the heritage and conservation sector, where fine attention to detail and care is similarly required to mitigate against damage to the historic fabric. The telescope is finely balanced and caution was needed to ensure it was treated with the utmost respect and care.

The works were carried out while the domes were closed off from the public domain but there were daily interfaces with both Observatory staff and members of the public. Sykes therefore had to make full provision for working safely adjacent to a research environment thus allowing University College London to carry out their summer business activities throughout the contract period in a safe and un-impeded manner.

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