OFR Designs Fire Strategy for Challenging Cumbrian Citadel Project

Our Manchester team, led by director Richard Rankin is involved in a challenging, transformative project in Carlisle. Known as the Citadel project, it will see a historic area of the city repurposed into a new flagship campus for the University of Cumbria and here, Rich tells us more about it. 

This is a hugely exciting project for us; essentially a ‘castle project’, this heritage building includes landmark turrets which form the gateway to the city.

This is such a unique scheme in that the building and its turrets are architecturally beautiful and such a rare starting point for any project – we are certainly having to think outside of the box with the fire engineering solution for the new university campus. 

As with all challenges that are presented when working within the structure of a listed building, even introducing sprinklers or fire alarms takes expertise and skill. We have to think of the fire strategy in a different way, as it’s about considering the risk not just meeting guidance requirements. Put simply in the context of this individual project, guidance doesn’t always cater for spiral staircases! 

Additionally, as the building is listed, we can’t advise to place stairs outside of the building as it affects the overall aesthetic – this is where our team collectively brings in our heritage experience and skill.

The team started on the project in 2021, working on the early concepts with the architect and since early this year has been undertaking developed design work to support the planning application. Stage 4 detailed design commenced last month whilst the planning for Phase 1 was granted in early August.

Following the repurposing of the existing building, an extension is being planned for Phase 2. If given the go ahead, this Phase would create a higher building, so additional specialist design by OFR has already been incorporated within Phase 1 to ensure that the building is sustainable, futureproofed and more cost effective, than if these measures were just introduced from Phase 2. For more information about this project you can visit this link.

The OFR team also includes Jamie Clark as project engineer and Mel Harris as project manager; together they are working on behalf of Day Architectural whose full summary of the project can be read here.


Richard Rankin

Design Director

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