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25 years of loving construction: Holland House, Cardiff

A picture taken on the roof of Holland House, Cardiff, which SCS Group designed a staircase pressurisation system for

SCS Group designed a staircase pressurisation system for Holland House, Cardiff

In the run-up to SCS Group’s 25th anniversary in December, we are publishing a series of case studies looking back at our work over the years. In the second in the series, SCS Group Managing Director Allan Meek looks back at Holland House, Cardiff

A picture of the view from the top of Holland House with Cardiff's Civic Centre in the distance

The view from the top of Holland House with Cardiff’s Civic Centre in the distance

This project, in the early 2000s, was my first encounter with Paul McCarthy of Rightacres property. They were planning to convert an old 20-storey 60’s office block to a hotel and as the building only contained a single staircase there were some serious obstacles to overcome on the fire safety side.

Staircase pressurisation system

We’d been brought in by Matthew Williams of McCann and Partners to design a staircase pressurisation system to protect the escape routes. We already had a lot of experience in this field and a reputation for delivering them without the hassle a lot of our competitors were getting.

I was called to a meeting in the building where Paul had an office where everyone was there including the Local Authority, Fire Brigade, Architect, Consultants etc. My job was to present our scheme and give the approving authority confidence in granting approval for the scheme to go ahead.

I laid out some drawings on the meeting table and nervously started my presentation on the scheme when Paul interrupted me and made a joke. Everyone burst into laughter and the atmosphere changed in an instant. Everyone relaxed and we had a very productive meeting resulting in the required approval.

A picture of the view from Holland House

Holland House, better known today as the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa, is located in central Cardiff

The implementation was difficult but we did a great job and I think it was also the first project that we decided to commission at night to ensure clear access, a practice that became standard for us on pressurisation systems.

Black tie dinner

At the end of the job, Paul arranged a black tie dinner and awards ceremony for all of the contractors as part of the soft opening of the hotel. I think we were a runner up in the “By the Skin of Their Teeth” category.

It’s been great to see Paul transform Cardiff over the last 10 years and we’re proud to still be on the team.