Steel Windows – Protecting Our Architectural Heritage

January 3rd, 2017

Genuine steel windows are being specified on a regular basis more frequently now than at any time during the last 30 years.  Architects, planning officers, designers and property owners are becoming increasingly aware of the many benefits that steel windows have to offer, not least their robust strength and stunning good looks.

This revival in the specification of original steel windows has its roots in the growing trend to restore and preserve the finest of our old buildings rather than demolish them and construct new ones.  Planning regulations in the UK concerning the protection of our architectural heritage are rigorous.  Indeed, they are seen worldwide as an example of how the best of the past can be conserved and found new uses for in the modern world.

All buildings require alteration from time to time and religious buildings are no exception.  Churches are often of real significance to a local community, providing a valued link to its past history and identity.  Redundant church buildings can offer a myriad of exciting conversion opportunities, but as they are often listed or in Conservation Areas, any change of use must, of course, adhere to strict planning guidelines.

A fine example is The Sanctuary, in London, which has been impressively converted into four luxury apartments and one stunning new build house.  A 19th century Listed Buiding, formerly known as St Paul’s Church, The Sanctuary sits in a prominent position at the top of St John’s Hill in Battersea.  Current owners, The James Laurence Group, worked with the London Borough of Wandsworth’s Planning Department to agree how best this historical building should be restored and provided with a new lease of life.

Clement was chosen to supply all the steel windows and conservation rooflights.  The bespoke demands of the project necessitated the use of two steel window ranges, sometimes within the same aperture, in order to achieve the precise look required.  Both W20 and EB24 were fitted to create the beautiful new windows, which include club head patterns.

The combination of steel’s elegant sightlines and the large panes of glass that can be used due to steel’s inherent strength made steel windows the popular choice for this project.  Not only do the windows provide a great look, but they also flood the building with natural light, giving the impression of more space.

The Sanctuary was included within a case study for English Heritage, Heritage Counts, in 2015.

Other churches that are in need of refurbishment but will continue to be used for their original purpose also require sympathetic refurbishment in order to retain aspects of their architecture or historical connections.

For example, Mount Saint Bernard Abbey is home to the Cistercian order of Saint Bernard.  The Abbey, in Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire, opened in 1844 after a donation from John, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury, enabled a permanent monastery to be built on the site.  The most famous architect of the Gothic Revival, Augustus Pugin, offered his services for free and designed the beautiful building which still stands today.

Grade II listed, the monastery is of great architectural significance and therefore, enormous sensitivity was required on the part of Clement when they were approached to replace the original metal windows, some of which were more than 170 years old.

A great deal of thought and planning went into deciding the correct specification.  Clement’s EB20 range of steel windows was specified to best replicate the original windows, while simultaneously improving the thermal efficiency which was so important for the building’s residents.

The slim, elegant sections of EB20 allowed the creation of the beautiful club and arch heads seen in the pictures which add to the charm of this wonderful historic building.

The modern steel window, which if bought in the UK is generally made entirely from source recycled material, is available with any number of performance options. These include compliance with the latest thermal guidelines contained in Part L of the Building regulations, robust hard wearing surface coatings in a choice of RAL colours and sturdy security devices.

So today the steel window really does have a part to play in protecting our strong architectural heritage – functional but stylish in a way that other materials such as aluminium and plastic just cannot match.

Clement manufacture an innovative range of steel windows, doors and screens for both private residences and commercial projects.  We provide a complete service – from the provision of technical drawings through to manufacture, installation and after sales support – whatever your project.

Our previous work includes prestigious heritage projects across the UK and in the USA, including landmark buildings such as The Ritz and The Savoy Hotels in London and the El Dorado Building in Manhattan.  We work closely with architects, Conservation Officers and other building professionals to produce window designs which are visually stunning and offer high technical performance, whilst respecting important heritage and conservation objectives.

We also supply a selection of conservation rooflights, available from stock in either a tile or a slate profile.