Buttress’ relationship with engineer led to appointment

Buttress has landed the job of repairing and rebuilding Exeter’s historic Royal Clarence Hotel which was destroyed by fire last year.

The Manchester practice won the job thanks to its relationship with structural engineer Thomasons which in turn was appointed by the hotelier’s insurer.

It has been on site since the high-profile fire, assessing the extent of the damage, sifting through the rubble and making safe the remaining elements of the grade II building.

Buttress has now been appointed to take the restoration forward and lead the interior design of the new hotel.

The Clarence, parts of which date from the 16th century, is the oldest building in England to be referred to as a hotel, back in 1770.

It was completely gutted in October’s blaze which spread from a nearby art gallery, with only parts of the façade remaining. But some significant finds have been discovered in the ashes including a medieval wall decoration which had been hidden during later refurbishments.

Detailed research compiled by Buttress into the Clarence’s history will inform the restoration process. The plan is to preserve surviving features of historic and architectural importance and, where possible, incorporate them into the rebuild.

A planning application should be submitted towards the end of the year, with the project due to be completed in 2019.

David Shatwell, director at Buttress, said: “Over the past few months our efforts have been focused on stabilising the building, taking great care to save as much as possible of what remains.

“Now most of the debris has been cleared, we are pleased to be in a position where we can move forward with the next stage of work.”

Stephanie Hocking, chief executive of owner Andrew Brownsword Hotels, said: “As such a significant historic building, we are pleased to be entering the rebuild phase and look forward to delivering a hotel the city can once again be proud of.”