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What Quinn Architects specified on Club Row

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AJ Specification takes a look at the materials Quinn Architects specified for its project transforming a Victorian school into office spaces in East London


The building is a rare example of the schools of Edward Robson, and plans for its development attracted significant local interest. Built in 1878 in a dense slum lacking in external space, its laid-to-falls external roof formed an open playground for the children taught in the large ground floor hall.

We carried out extensive community consultations, setting up open meetings and presentations with local amenity groups, taking on board the wide desire to see the building respected. Detailed discussions with the conservation officer and local historians directed us to consider the intent of the original architect: natural ventilation and light; expressed structure; tall ceilings; and natural materials hand-fashioned by local artisans.

In this spirit, we proposed a standing seam zinc roof, its structural strategy expressed internally through an exposed concrete ring beam sitting on rebuilt brick piers. We raised its height by 1.5m, allowing the upper floor space to share in the tall work and gallery spaces on the ground floor.

Externally the weathered brick specials were replaced with new handmade bricks, and all ledges flashed to protect them from future damage. The original arched windows were amended during their refurbishment to lift their timber sills off the weathered stone beneath, protecting them from further attack by standing water. New oak windows and doors were introduced to maximise the incoming daylight, with window vents providing greater control over natural ventilation to occupants.

Internally, alongside a detailed refurbishment, a terrazzo stair and bronze handrails were introduced to connect the two floors, top-lit by a large rooflight. These materials are carried through the building in the thresholds, ironmongery and common spaces, creating an honest language of modern elements and natural materials.

Laurence Quinn, director, Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects


Club Row by Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects


Club Row by Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects


Club Row by Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects

Resolution of the first floor detailing was the most critical and complex part of the project. We needed to integrate the out-of-plumb and inconsistent locations of the existing piers with our wish to install and expose a concrete ring beam, lift the ceiling height by 1.5m and create a refined zinc roof.

Responding to the decorative masonry in the existing façades, we introduced a continuous handmade brickwork corbel and cast-stone cornice at the head of the building. Fixed back and spaced off the ring beam, this allowed the insulated zinc parapet and vapour barrier to tuck behind the new masonry and connect to the window heads. At its top the parapet creates a sharp point set back from the facades, and at its base the zinc flashes over the projecting cornice to throw water away from the walls and windows below.

On the west elevation, in openings that were previously unfenestrated, we worked with joiners to produce an oak screen of windows with individually operable vent panels. We raised them off the floor to provide the occupants with a ledge to sit on away from the workspaces, encouraging animation of the façades and a new relationship to form between the building and the street. These are set behind existing railings, which were cut down and fitted with locally cast finials to form a balustrade with the exterior.

On the typical façades bespoke white-painted windows were installed, an adaption of the original detailing. These were raised to establish a consistent eye-level window line around the building, with openable areas calculated to provide natural ventilation. The existing stone sills had been so badly weathered they no longer threw rain away from the windows. Rather than replace the original fabric, we lifted the timber sills off the stone to create an upstand, and securely fixed new lead flashings between the two.

Costa Elia, project architect, Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects

Project data

Start on site May 2015
Completion June 2016
Gross internal floor area 763m²
Form of contract Two-stage tender based on JCT Intermediate Form of Contract 2011 with Contractors Design Ref ICD
Construction cost £2,942,372
Construction cost per m2 £3,856
Architect Quinn Architects
Client James Moores Organisation
Structural engineer Elliot Wood Partnership
M&E consultant GDM Building Services
QS and project lead The CBE Partnership
Planning consultant Indigo Planning
Surveyor ABM Surveys
Project manager Quinn Architects
CDM co-ordinator Fareed Fetto & Co
Approved building inspector MLM Building Control
Main contractor T&B Contractors
CAD software used Vectorworks Architect

Club Row by Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects

Specified products

Zinc roof 

SIG Zinc

Pre-weathered zinc for warm roof applications 


Bricks supplied by WT Lamb and Sons

Project-specific specials of red rubber cavetto, cyma recta, cyma reversa and fluted profiles laid and pointed in lime mortar 

Oak doors and windows

AJ Joinery

European Oak with an Osmo satin oil finish. Windows have full-height vent panels to the sides. Doors are fitted with brass trims 

Timber painted doors and windows

AJ Joinery

Glazed with Slimlite double glazing 

Cast stone

Acanthus Cast Stone

Bespoke coping stone, cornices and string course returns 

Concrete stair 

Cambridge Architectural Precast

Individually cast treads, with brass strip inlaid nosings. Concrete mix containing limestone and pit sand developed specifically for project 

Concrete tiles and thresholds

Robel Tiles

Precast tiles and thresholds using same concrete mix as stair 

Main stair balustrade 

Topp and Co

Steel balusters with bronze rail. Special returns and newel post cap cast in bronze by fabricator and installer Alexander Stuart-Meneth 

External railings

Fabricator and installer Alexander Stuart-Meneth

Mild steel railings made to bespoke design with finials cast in local foundry to original mould

Club Row by Quinn Architects

Club Row by Quinn Architects


 Cost (£)% of total
Substructure 139,000 4
Frame 90,000 2
Roof 285,000 7
Staircases 77,000 2
External walls 663,000 17
Windows 349,000 9
Internal walls and partitions 146,000 4
Internal doors 94,000 2
Group element total 1,704,000 44
Internal finishes  
Wall finishes 123,000 3
Floor finishes 184,000 5
Ceiling finishes 114,000 3
Group element total 421,000 11
Fittings and furnishings 3,000 0
Sanitary appliances 37,000 1
Disposal installations 126,000 3
Water installations 80,000 2
Space heating and air treatment 207,000 5
Electrical services 219,000 6
Protective installations 62,000 2
Communications installation 44,000 1
Group element total 775,000 20
Demolition & alterations 119,000 3
External works  
Landscaping 149,000 4
Minor building works 44,000 1
External services 61,000 2
Group element total 254,000 7
Preliminaries and insurance 441,000 11
Total  949,000 100
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