AJ Specification 12.11 – Flooring, Stairs & Lifts
Case studies of Howick Place by Squire and Partners, Richard Green Gallery by Adam Architecture and Kensington residence by Studio Seilern Architects
Editorial - Felix Mara
When specifying flooring, stairs and lifts, architects need to be up to speed with changes to legislation, standards and practice. The Equality Act (discussed in the introduction to this month’s Product Matrix on vertical platform lifts) replaced most of the Disability Discrimination Act in October 2010, has implications for floors, stairs and lifts. Floor products can also have a big impact on a building’s environmental profile, just as the lift specification will affect its energy use.
Floor design influences our visual, tactile and acoustic experience of architecture, as do stairs and lifts, which can really animate a building. This month’s case studies explore these qualities in different ways. Squire and Partners’ Howick Place, a former Royal Mail sorting office in Victoria, is the largest private arts-based development in London and, according to associate director Sophie Steed, involved an enormous struggle to transform what was a complicated rabbit warren into the minimalist interiors we see today. It’s also a perfect showcase for floor, stair and lift design.
Adam Architecture’s Richard Green Gallery in London’s New Bond Street is a private modern art space in a traditional terrace building with intimate interiors and, to use a misleading term, an oval cantilevered stone staircase which, unlike most staircases thus called, doesn’t actually have cantilevered treads. Our third case study, Studio Seilern Architects’ Kensington residence, also in London and also a retrofit, has an elliptical fabricated steel staircase.
Howick Place, London, by Squire and Partners
Howick Place, a former Royal Mail sorting office, has been refurbished and transformed into the largest private arts-based development in London - a creative hub of offices, art galleries and loft style apartments, aimed at artists and designers.
Squire and Partners developed a scheme that sensitively maintains the existing character of the Victorian building while creating modern interventions complementing the original.
Externally, the front facade was repaired and new large-pane high performance double glazed Crittal windows maximise natural light inside the building, enhanced by York stone surround windows.
Internally, existing steel beams, cast iron columns and staircases, timber handrails and structural floors were retained and refurbished. New polished concrete and timber floors, glass and timber staircases, pre-weathered steel panelling, and lift interiors with screen-printed glass were added to enhance the building’s character.
Tim Gledstone, partner, Squire and Partners
Richard Green Gallery, London, by Adam Architecture
This new art gallery has been designed specifically for the display of post-1900 pictures. The building provides three floors of gallery space, together with ancillary facilities including a private viewing gallery and a research library.
The building has a steel-framed structure between the existing party walls of the neighbouring buildings. The facade is load-bearing Portland stone, with a minimum thickness of 200mm, tied across a 15mm cavity to an inner leaf of brickwork, within which the frame is concrete-encased.
At the rear of the building is a cantilevered stone staircase constructed in Mocha Crème limestone, with a bearing of 140mm at the end of each step built into the surrounding brickwork.
In order to maximise ceiling heights suitable for the display of large works of art, a Slimdek Floor system was used for the spans of the principal floors, with air conditioning ducts running within the gallery walls rather than within dropped ceiling voids.
George Saumarez Smith, project director, Adam Architecture
Kensington residence, London, by Studio Seilern Architects
The project combines twin terrace houses behind refurbished historic facades to create one large family dwelling within a conservation area.
The three-storey main body of the house facing the street contains the bedrooms. To the rear, two separate extensions have been demolished to allow construction of a large living space. This double-height living area is the pulsing heart of the house.
Two bright conservatories, under 2.5 x 4m panes of glass, with 2.2 x 2.4m glass doors that swivel outward, create a continuous space between the living room, kitchen and garden terrace.
A spectacular, mild steel spiral staircase connects all three levels. The leather stair-covering and handrails are warm to the touch and absorb sound and vibrations. Light falls dramatically around the stair from a skylight above. The 3 x 2m skylight opens hydraulically to facilitate natural ventilation throughout the building.
Ivan Lazzaroni, project architect, Studio Seilern Architects