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Location and Context

Nestled in the vibrant West End of London, the Central Synagogue presented a unique and complex challenge for our team. Tasked with refurbishing the basement area beneath the main synagogue hall, our project required meticulous planning, coordination, and sensitivity to the cultural and operational nuances of the space.

Location: The Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street, London

Scope: Comprehensive strip-out, demolition and enabling works to the basement meeting rooms, function rooms, kitchens, classrooms and offices

Objective: Prepare the building for modernization and installation of new class rooms, meeting rooms, offices, kitchen, function hall and store areas



Preliminary Planning and Health & Safety Measures

The project kicked off with a comprehensive refurbishment and demolition (R&D) survey to assess the scope and intricacies of the task ahead. Following the survey's insights, a Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan (CPP) was devised, complemented by a detailed Risk Assessment and Method Statement (RAMS). These documents guided our team's approach, ensuring all members were fully briefed on the health and safety aspects and understood the risks associated with their tasks.

Environmental Management and Site Logistics

A Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) was established to monitor and manage the project's carbon footprint, with weekly updates shared with clients during progress meetings. The site logistics plan laid the foundation for efficient strip-out, demolition, and enabling works, encompassing site hoardings, welfare facilities, and strategies for material transportation and waste management.

Strip-Out and Structural Alterations

The initial phase involved a soft strip of existing spaces, including offices, classrooms, kitchens, function halls, WC's, and the lobby area. This was crucial for paving the way for the extensive structural alterations and demolition works to follow. Temporary works were designed by structural engineers to support the building during these alterations, ensuring the integrity of the structure at all stages.

Demolition and Dust Control

Demolition works were carried out with precision using a demolition robot, with special attention to dust control measures. The work area was sealed, and ventilation systems were bagged to prevent dust from spreading to the synagogue hall, which remained open and occupied throughout the project.

Structural Innovations and Renovations

Significant structural alterations included the installation of a large goal post, ground beams, and a reinforced retaining wall facing Great Portland Street, ensuring the building's stability. Load-bearing walls were removed, and structural steelwork was installed according to architectural and engineering specifications, culminating in the creation of a metal and glass atrium.

Infrastructure and Finishing Works

The project also involved intricate infrastructure work, such as breaking ground for an underground waste tank and constructing an outdoor goods lift shaft. Large trenches were dug for buried services, and the final touches included insulating uneven floor levels, pouring and polishing screed floors, and diamond cutting access holes for new service installations.


The Central Synagogue basement refurbishment project was a testament to our ability to navigate complex structural, logistical, and environmental challenges within a sensitive and occupied space. Through careful planning, innovative engineering solutions, and stringent health and safety measures, we successfully transformed the basement area, aligning with our client's vision while respecting the cultural significance of the synagogue. The project was completed on time and within budget, marking another milestone in our portfolio of intricate refurbishment projects in London's historic buildings.

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