Unique scaffolding for quirky sixteen-sided house

A La Ronde is a quirky 18th-century, Grade 1 listed 16-sided house in Summer Lane, two miles north of Exmouth in Devon, with stunning panoramic views across the Exe estuary. It was built for two spinster cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter, on their return from a grand tour of Europe in the late 18th century and features fascinating interior decoration and many objects and mementoes of their travels.

The extraordinary interior decoration includes a feather frieze, gathered from native game birds and chickens, laboriously stuck down with isinglass. There is also a fragile shell-encrusted gallery, said to contain nearly 25,000 shells, which can be viewed in its entirety using a touch screen 360 degree virtual tour.

Now owned and managed by the National Trust, the roof of this exceptional building had begun to leak alarmingly and restoration work was required to keep the building watertight and to keep the unique shell gallery safe and dry.

In order to undertake the restoration work it was necessary to provide access and a temporary roof to the higher part of the hexagonal part of the building that housed the shell collection.

It was time to call in Dudley-based Access Design & Safety – a Scaffolding Association member – to come up with a workable approach to providing the complex design required.

Access Design and Safety Ltd was formed in 2010 with the aim of delivering a high-quality scaffold design service to meet the demands of legislation and best practice guidance. Scaffold design is at the core of the business and scaffold design drawings and calculation works are founded on many years of experience.

Matthew Robinson, a director at Access Design & Safety, said: “The task was complicated by the house being Grade 1 listed – which meant that it was not possible to tie in the scaffolding to the fabric of the building. So the structure had to be founded on beamed sections from a lower access.

The system selected for the job was to use tube and fittings along with aluminium beams and a shrink wrapped covering for the temporary roof, whilst the restoration work took place beneath it. The design work completed, the design was passed across to Dorchester-based South Western Scaffolding to implement.”


Client: National Trust

Scaffolding Contractor: South Western Scaffolding Ltd

Scaffold Designer: Access Design and Safety Ltd