Upon enquiring of Estates & Facilities about the reason for the netting, the spokesperson for College replied in a statement to The University Times on Wednesday, November 15th: “Due to high winds on September 20th, 2023, one of the soffits to the overhanging roof of the Arts Building was damaged.”
A soffit is the underside of a structural component of a building such as a beam or arch. With specific reference to an exterior roof, it is the horizontal, aloft underside of the section of a roof that projects over the exterior wall.
The statement continued: “As a matter of urgency, the Estates & Facilities Department made the area safe and also engaged a structural engineer to immediately assess the damaged area and environs.”
“Their advice was to install heavy duty netting as a temporary measure to the adjoining five ceilings to avoid any risk of future damage, should there be a further failure.”
It is not clear whether students were in direct risk of the initial damage, and further risk to students has been mitigated by the installation of the netting. Also, due to the arrangement of the floors of the Arts Building, any piece of roof that may fall, even without netting, would either land on the roof of the fifth floor facing Nassau Street, which is inaccessible to students, or onto the roof of the fourth floor which projects out into Fellows Square under the sixth floor roof.
“Further inspections have taken place and the procurement of new soffits has commenced and we are in the process of compiling documentation to tender the replacement of the ceilings. Once tenders are reviewed, we will decide on the most appropriate way to undertake the remedial works.”
What is most concerning following the damage is that, having engaged a structural engineer and carried out further inspections, College now feels it is necessary to replace the ceilings of the Arts Building. This will no doubt incur significant cost and could disrupt any classes and carried out on this floor. It may also disrupt the work of the Classics Department and the Trinity Research in Social Sciences (TRiSS) team, whose offices are on the sixth floor.