The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) run British Embassies across the globe, including in areas with a risk of earthquakes.
The FCO Estates and Security Directorate commissioned FCO Services to lead on the provision of its Global Seismic Programme.
The programme’s aim is to make sure all of the FCO’s global estate at risk of earthquakes meets a ‘life safety’ standard. During the 2018/19 Financial Year, FCO Services successfully retrofitted a quarter of the 107 buildings identified as below the required standard.
In 2018, FCO Services carried out a seismic survey on the British Embassy in Belgrade and two owned residences. We found that parts of the structures would be at risk in the event of an earthquake.
The sites needed work to secure and strengthen them. This included demolishing and rebuilding the retaining wall between the embassy and the neighbouring kindergarten, which had, over time, deteriorated.
Going the extra mile
Significantly, we needed to complete the work with minimal disruption to the British Embassy’s neighbours to maintain good relations, including the kindergarten.
FCO Services took extra care to ensure minimum disruption to the kindergarten next door and surrounding properties. This included working closely with the kindergarten to agree a two hour period of ‘no works’ each day to allow for the children’s nap time.
The FCO Services’ Project Manager and Site Control Officer were brilliant and worked hard, even during weekends, to make sure the project was delivered on time. We are also grateful for the support we received from the FCO Services’ team in the UK.
Corporate Services Manager, FCO
Despite these extra considerations, we completed the work to budget and on time. This included:
- road surfacing
- removal of partition walls
- new foundations
- internal strengthening
- demolishing and rebuilding the garages
We also carried out additional work, such as a replacement soft-landscaped area for the kindergarten and refitting the embassy toilets.
Staff at the embassy and in FCO’s Estates and Security Directorate are delighted with the results of this complicated project, praising its expert management. They now feel confident that the British Embassy – and its neighbours – are protected from seismic activity.