John Robertson Architects (JRA) has completed the recladding of Great Arthur House for the City of London Corporation, a Grade II listed landmark, part of the Golden Lane Estate originally designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon and completed in 1956. Influenced by the work of Le Corbusier, the design of the Estate was regarded as a model of social integration with early tenants including doctors, police officers, secretaries, cleaners and caretakers – with an emphasis on one bedroom flats for single people and couples.
Great Arthur House has been restored, taking a 1950s design classic into the 21st century with the replacement curtain wall contributing to the estate wide regeneration. The striking yellow colour is now clearly expressed and provides a welcome counterpoint to the lower blocks of flats and maisonettes at the Golden Lane Estate clad in contrasting primary hues.
In addition to replacement of the curtain wall, JRA has restored the pergola and distinctive oversailing curved roof feature, which is cited as one of the first purely decorative motifs to appear on a modern building in London.
The residents of Great Arthur House were extensively consulted throughout the course of the work and were at the heart of the retrofit project. All works were carried out with residents living in the building. This was immensely challenging and to make this possible, JRA devised a temporary structural insulated panel that was positioned inside the apartments, while the recladding works took place. The new cladding system comprised storey height prefabricated panels which eliminated the need for external scaffolding.
Great Arthur House has been restored, taking a 1950s design classic into the 21st century with the replacement curtain wall contributing to the estate wide regeneration
The new cladding replicates the delicate extruded profiles of the original 1950s façade, together with the distinctive use of yellow glass. The new façade improves the performance of the original windows with a double glazed and thermally insulated prefabricated panel system.
The new double-glazed curtain wall effectively doubled the weight of the existing cladding system and so strengthening of the existing reinforced concrete slab edges was an important part of the project. A hidden but decisive role was played by the use of galvanized steel plates (6,135 mm x 250 mm x 12 mm) that were designed to reinforce each slab edge between apartments.
These plates also had the dual function of providing fixing points for the new curtain wall, which transferred the load of the new façade into the concrete structure, close to the vertical shear walls. Galvanized steel was selected because of its inherent strength, stability, versatility and longevity. There would be no easy access to the plates so durability was a key component in selecting galvanizing as a protective coating to the steelwork.