ASWS undertakes artful steel window replacement at Royal Academy

A recent contract, undertaken by London-based ASWS, has required the steel window repair specialist to exhibit a degree of artfulness in ensuring a large composite replica window, fabricated as part of alterations to a prominent Grade II listed building, not only matched the original, but could also operate in a manner to facilitate safe cleaning.

Continuing an established association with the leading firm of London architects, Barr Gazetas, ASWS undertook the work at the Royal Academy of Arts’ new Pace Gallery on behalf of John Sisk & Son; also a past client. 

The large composite bay consisting of a pair of semi-headed frames with a separating fixed infil frames, measuring 2136 wide by 2430mm high overall, dated from the late 19th century and were too badly corroded to repair. ASWS removed them with minimal damage to the stone reveals; and saved the ironmongery for reuse.  The company’s highly skilled craftsmen utilised W20 profiles to fabricate the new frames, with odd-leg sections and JB mullions selected to help maintain an authentic appearance.

The team also created new steel cills to raise the level of the window slightly and utilised Parliament hinges to enable the opening lights to clear the ornate stone columns, positioned just outside of the main building line.

Kris Bennell, Contracts Director for ASWS, comments, “Despite this being just one composite bay, there was an extensive design process – including our preparation of detailed drawings and even making a timber mock-up of the frames – in order for permission to be gained. 

“The original windows had not been made from standard steel sections so matching them was challenging. In addition, the presence of the two very decorative columns outside made it difficult when it came to cleaning; we had to ensure we used the correct hinges to create sufficient space for window cleaners to reach out – safely.”

“The replacement windows were single glazed with 6mm laminated glass, avoiding the slightly distorted reflections characteristic of double glazing, and the frames were polyester powder coated in the factory, before being resprayed internally after fitting to achieve the dual colour required inside and out.  It has been a very successful, if protracted, process which has cemented our working relationships with both Sisk and Barr Gazetas.”

ASWS installed a mastic seal right around the new frames before handing the job back to the main contractor to complete the plastering and any masonry work required. The installation was completed ahead of the Pace Gallery’s final fit-out while, following the official opening, the space has been used for several significant exhibitions of contemporary art.

The Royal Academy of Arts recently won a RIBA London Award.

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