Fenestration specialist, ASWS, facilitates ‘forensic’ demolition work

The finesse and forensic attention to detail displayed by Associated Steel Window Services (ASWS) when removing, cataloguing and eventually reinstating old windows or other architectural metalwork could not be further removed from the world of the wrecking ball, or Fred Dibner burning timber props from beneath a factory chimney.

It is a capability that the South London-based company – a longstanding member of the Steel Window Association – has developed over decades of working with main contractors, their demolition contractors, and leading firms of consultants, evolving originally from being tasked with removing windows so that hoists and waste chutes can be deployed; or to allow bulky items of M&E such as fan coil units to be installed.

Such is the sophistication of the service offered by ASWS that the specialist is often called in at the earliest pre-contract stages in order to assess the condition of fenestration, providing documents and drawings crucial to gaining permission for work from Heritage England or councils’ conservation officers.    

Kris Bennell, Contracts Director for ASWS, comments: “While we have for many years helped contractors by carefully removing windows to enable hoists or building services plant to be installed, in more recent years we have been called upon to remove windows and façade structures to facilitate façade retention and to protect the heritage assets including storing the windows off site. More recently we have assisted Erith Contractors – a major demolition firm – with challenges like façade retention at Whiteleys shopping centre and dismantling a 60-metre-long copper canopy within London’s Olympia exhibition centre. 

“Together with the expertise of our personnel in the forensic removal of windows – causing the absolute minimum of damage – our wide-ranging experience is why ASWS is trusted by bodies including Heritage England and many London boroughs like Camden and Westminster.  We can offer confidence and comfort to consultants and our clients.”

Typically, ASWS will conduct a full condition survey on behalf of the client or architects which can include laser scans of the building, intrusive metal sampling to determine the materials used, and recording each piece of glass.  Even Components like metal glazing beads and fragile brass screws can be saved meaning, on major projects, tens of thousands of items must be double-tagged, catalogued in an Excel ‘heritage asset register’ and securely stored.

James Williams, Assistant Project Manager for Erith Contractors, comments, “Having worked with ASWS for nearly two years on the Whiteley’s project, I could not recommend them enough. Their professionalism, knowledge and experience in the heritage sector is second to none and was invaluable throughout the project. Their site team is continually trying to progress the works, even in the demanding demolition sector. They were able to move about the building with their works to support our developing programme demands.”

“Where the ASWS team was most useful was with the continued provision of information and continual support with their elements of our works. As with all heritage and listed projects, the demands on the main contractor to provide support, evidence and proof of safe and effective removal and storage was incredibly intense. This was made simple by the whole ASWS team, from their removal teams, to tagging and registering, to off-site storage and logistics they were always able to give that confidence that both the planning officers and our client demanded.”

Dependant on the requirements of the project, ASWS are able to produce high quality document presentations, including electronic and physical records. These can containing data and drawings of every window, which can be passed to the planners and heritage officers, as well as forming the basis of the contract pricing document.

The service also extends to involving structural engineers on bracing larger frames for removal while ASWS has even supplied screen-prints of the fenestration as a temporary aesthetic measure.

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