Breathing new life into an abandoned jail

Built in the 1770s by Napoleonic prisoners for King George, Bodmin Jail was one of the first prisons in the UK with individual cells, segregated areas for male and female prisoners, hot water and light as well as open spaces for prisoners to both live and work in. The jail saw its female area close in 1911 with the last male prisoner leaving in 1916.

Since its closure as a prison the jail has had numerous uses including as a nightclub, wedding venue and restaurant but it is mostly recognised for its dark history and has been a visitor attraction famed for paranormal activity.  Over time many of the rooms in the building & surrounding areas have fallen into ruin and large sections of the jail have sat without a roof, open to the exposed rainy Cornish climate for over 100 years.

The jail is currently undergoing extensive renovation with brand new visitors’ attractions with a bar, restaurant and a 70-room luxury boutique hotel being built within the walls of the Grade 2 listed building.

From a design perspective it has been imperative to protect the historic fabric of the building but also significantly improve the thermal performance of the walls to allow the conversion of cells into hotel rooms. Modern insulation systems posed the serious issue of restricting moisture movement and eco systems such as woodfibre and cork could not handle the extremely high moisture content of the wall without the fear of interstitial condensation and rot.

Cornerstone Insulating Render was deemed the most appropriate material available and offered the perfect combination of achieving a U Value low enough to accommodate the heating and cooling system required of the hotel and yet provide a highly vapour permeable wall coating that would actively manage moisture both within the wall and the internal environment, enhancing and protecting the historic fabric onto which it would be applied.

Insulating Render in situ.
Cornerstone Insulating Render

Insulating Render offers a lightweight and highly insulating coating which can be applied directly to historic masonry. It can be applied and built out at least 3 times faster than conventional lime based finishes and a 50mm coating can improve the U Value of a wall by 50%. 

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