Grenfell Tower fire deaths raise questions about safety of post-war renovations


Architects and construction experts are trying to understand the cause of a devastating fire at a recently refurbished tower block in west London, which has killed 12 people.

The fire broke out at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower near Notting Hill in the early hours of this morning. Twelve residents have been confirmed dead, with the toll expected to rise. Over 70 people have required hospital treatment.

Architects and construction experts are investigating whether the blaze spread more rapidly as a result of the buildings new cladding, as suggested by onlookers.

London firm Studio E Architects and contractors Rydon oversaw the £8.7 million refurbishment of the 1970s building, which completed last summer. The works included adding a new cladding of aluminium composite panels to the outer facades of the tower block, as well as installing an energy efficient heating system.

There are claims that fire safeguards were removed during the works. It is unclear whether these were replaced.

Air cavities between the new cladding and insulation are said to have acted like a chimney, speeding the spread of the fire, which has burnt through much of the facade.

Rydon claims the building met all fire regulation and health and safety standards at the time of the renovation’s completion.

The facelift of the building’s facade, similar to that received by many post-war housing blocks across the UK, is said to have taken place to improve the views from luxury flats located nearby.


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