Fresh facade for Golden Lane Estate's Great Arthur House

Great Arthur House, Golden Lane Estate, London

Source: Tom Cronin

John Robertson Architects designs bespoke cladding solution for London modernist tower

John Robertson Architects has won planning permission for the renovation of Great Arthur House, the high-rise focal point of Chamberlin, Powell & Bon’s modernist Golden Lane Estate in the City of London.

With its distinctive roof-top flourish, Great Arthur House is 15 storeys high and was briefly the tallest inhabited building in the UK when it was completed in 1957. Now grade II listed, the 120-apartment tower is suffering from a failing curtain wall system.

“The cladding is past its economic life and has been for some time. It is deteriorating,” says JRA director Festus Moffat, adding that some residents had been using buckets to catch the ingressing water.

The difficulty was in finding a better performing solution that was true to the aesthetic of the original building — an aluminium-framed, single-glazed system also used on Routemaster buses. Integrating it into the structure was problematic because any new double-glazed design would be too heavy for the existing slab.

The solution was to insert a lightweight, 1,200mm-deep Vierendeel truss between the spandrel panels and the spandrel upstand to support the extra weight. This runs across the facade, spanning between the reinforced concrete shear walls, but is hidden externally.

The new glazing will match the original depths of the mullions and transoms as closely as possible and incorporate a bright yellow spandrel similar to the colour and texture of the original Vitrolite glass.

The cladding is expected to reduce heating bills by an average of 31%. Installation will begin later this year, along with other external renovations and a construction of a new maintenance gantry.

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