Surgo Construction Ltd (Surgo), one of the region’s leading building contractors, has started work on the £3.8m redevelopment and refurbishment of Newcastle University’s Hatton Gallery.

The Grade II listed gallery forms part of the University’s Fine Art department and is home to the iconic Merz Barn Wall by Kurt Schwitters. It is due to reopen in September 2017.

Surgo was appointed following a competitive tender and interview process. Their brief is to refurbish the galleries, carry out internal area modifications and upgrades, renovate listed roof lights, install steelwork to carry new mechanical equipment, undertake some re-roofing works and create new meeting rooms and seminar areas.

The work will be carried out in two phases – the first continuing until the end of October with phase two due to end mid February 2017.

There will be some challenges ahead for Surgo’s team given that the Hatton Gallery is located within a tight site where only a small area for deliveries exists, which is further complicated by the need for  shared access with another building contractor working on an adjacent site.

Added to this, the Hatton is located on the delivery route to the Old Library Cafe, a building which is still ‘live’ from the basement up meaning existing services such as fire alarms and building services installations have to be maintained.

Surgo director, Jeff Alexander, said:  “We are delighted to be appointed to another Newcastle University project where we have successfully completed a number of projects.  Our knowledge of working on ‘live’ tight sites, our listed building expertise and supply chain network combined to make us well qualified for our appointment to the Hatton Gallery.

“Parts of the building are listed so there is a requirement for us to work with a conservation officer as well as with Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums in relation to the priceless and iconic Merz Barn Wall by Kurt Schwitters.

“The wall was brought to the gallery in 1965 and incorporated into the fabric of the building where it is still in situ so the environment surrounding it must be controlled and protected at all times, therefore any activities resulting in vibration or dust cannot take place close by.

“We are working closely with building users and other contractors to carefully schedule deliveries while the University will undertake regular inspections to ensure that the contract goes according to plan.”

Surgo’s project partners on the Hatton Gallery are Newcastle University, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Turner Townsend, project managers, TGA Consulting Engineers (M&E), WSP Consulting Engineers (structural) and LDN Architects of Edinburgh.

Newcastle University’s project engineer manager, Andy Ransome, said:  “Work is already progressing well on the project as we seek to conserve the historic and architectural elements of this Grade II listed building, while creating a modern exhibition space with improved visitor facilities, improved lighting and more efficient environmental controls.  Surgo’s previous experience made them the ideal choice for this project.”

The Hatton Gallery £3.8m redevelopment project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support in the way of other grants and donations secured by Newcastle University and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums to ensure the Hatton Gallery continues to be a vibrant and exciting gallery long into the future.

The Hatton Gallery’s diverse collection includes more than 3,000 works from the 14th-20th centuries with extensive archive material including paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and textiles together with materials connected to the history of the Gallery, such as exhibition posters designed and printed in the art school.