Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) was a popular building material in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in public sector buildings.
RAAC was seen as a more cost-effective alternative to traditional concrete, which made it an attractive choice for buildings like hospitals and schools.
The material is aerated and bubbly, making the steel beams inside are more prone to corrosion and damage.
The danger of this material was highlighted by an alert from the Standing Committee of Structural Safety in 2019 after the collapse of the roof of a school in Kent.
According to an ITV report, 68 schools across England currently have RAAC in their structure.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn, opened in 1980, is one in a list of public buildings that were constructed using RAAC.
They building is now facing challenges related to its facilities and infrastructure.
The roof of the hospital is now supported by over 3,000 metal and wooden props.
QEH press officer Laura Allen said: “As we are still awaiting confirmation that we have been added onto the Government’s New Hospital Programme, we continue to offer services from the existing site”.
Most public sector buildings constructed using RAAC have either been demolished or refurbished at a high cost due to its designed 30-year lifespan and the material’s tendency to deteriorate.
For example, the Hulme Crescents housing estate in Manchester, built in the 1970s using RAAC, was demolished and replaced in 1995 due to safety concerns.
Another example, Park Hill estate in Sheffield, was listed in 1998 due to its architecture, and was subsequently included in a £100 million regeneration scheme, which includes new public art spaces and more.
The recent approval of plans for a new car park on the QEH’s site is a step forward in the hospital’s rebuild plans, for now, QEH’s patients and staff will continue to work in a building that is not fit for purpose, and the hospital’s services remain at risk.
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