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Great Arthur House, London, John Robertson Architects

Monument-Appropriate: Renovation of Great Arthur House in London

Since its completion in 1956, Great Arthur House has towered above the surrounding Golden Lane Estate, designed by the architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon in the northern part of the City of London. The building’s distinguishing characteristics are its delicate curtain façades with bright-yellow balustrade panels of enamelled glass and a sculptural, concrete roof construction that reveals the influence of Le Corbusier.

Even after the façade refurbishment carried out by John Robertson Architects, Great Arthur House has retained its striking appearance. The repair project was planned in such a way that it would satisfy the stipulations for the preservation of historical monuments. Furthermore, the work was to be carried out without requiring residents to move out.

Originally, the curtain façades featured single glazing. They are divided into three fields for each storey: the above-mentioned balustrade, a sliding window in the middle and an awning window in the upper area. The balustrades, which had little load-bearing capacity, consisted of thin hollow bricks in frames made of steel T-profiles. The curtain façades had been fixed to teak joists mounted on the exterior ceilings.

In order to disturb residents as little as possible during building work, the architects had temporary protective walls of large-format sandwich elements attached to the interior front sides of the façades. To replace the wooden joists, 12-mm-thick steel sheets have been mounted in front of the face sides of the ceilings so that the new curtain façades, which are insulated and much heavier than their predecessors, could be hung from them.

To fulfil the requirements of historical monument protection, the windows have been equipped with double-glazed copies of the original awning and sliding versions, although casement windows are now the rule in the UK. The front sides of the house, which are made of coarse, bush-hammered concrete, have merely been given a new coat of paint.

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