• Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

Appleton Tower Lecture Theatres and other university buildings closed due to fears over concrete safety

ByLucy Frewin

Sep 5, 2023
Appleton Tower

The University of Edinburgh has restricted access to areas within eight buildings due to safety concerns over Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). 

In a statement released on 5 September, the university confirmed that in light of guidance from the UK Government’s Department for Education, certain areas within buildings containing RAAC will close. 

Safety concerns over RAAC have been brought to the fore following a change in guidance by the Department for Education resulting in the closure of over 150 school buildings containing RAAC. 

The UK Government said that: “In 2023 there were a small number of cases where RAAC failed with no warning”. 

RAAC is a type of lightweight concrete that was used as an alternative to reinforced concrete from the 1950s until the 1990s. 

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Compared to reinforced concrete, RAAC is more susceptible to structural failure when exposed to moisture. 

A report by the Institute for Structural Engineers said that RAAC has a shelf life of around 20 to 30 years. 

The report cited that RAAC panels over 20 years old are at risk of collapse without warning if in poor condition. 

In their statement the university highlighted that the closure of buildings is a: “precautionary measure”. 

The statement continued: “Initial inspections have already taken place in each of these buildings, in line with previous guidance on this issue, and no significant concerns have been identified.

“In light of updated guidance from the UK Government’s Department of Education, however, we have restricted access to the affected areas with immediate effect until we are able to carry out more detailed surveys”. 

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The restricted areas include: Lecture Theatre 4 and 5 in Appleton Tower, Level R of The Hunter Building and Level 1 of the Dan Rutherford Building. 

Apologising for the closure, the university said: “We are very sorry for the disruption this will cause, but we want to be confident that our buildings remain safe for everyone in our community. 

“None of the affected buildings includes residential accommodation, however, some of the areas do include teaching, laboratory and office spaces. We are looking into appropriate alternative spaces as a matter of urgency so that activities scheduled to take place in these areas can be relocated where possible.

“We expect restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks while additional assessments take place. We are aware that this may affect some Welcome Week activities and we are doing all we can to minimise disruption for all users of the affected areas”.

Appleton Tower” by marsupium photography is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.