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Steel windows make the grade for school conversion

Steel windows make the grade for school conversion

Opened in 1938 as a health centre and juvenile employment bureau, Alexandra House is a grade-II listed building which has recently been converted to accommodate the expansion of St Paul’s Church of England Primary School in Brentford, West London. A major part of the work to the Art Deco style building was the full refurbishment of over 70 steel windows and the manufacture of ten new windows by Steel Window Association member, Associated Steel Window Services (ASWS).

The retention of the original windows was a requirement of the conservation officer. With their strong horizontal glazing-bar pattern, the metal casement windows make an important aesthetic contribution to Alexandra House and enhance the sentinel quality of the ‘tower of health’, the building’s central feature.

Working within the tight six-month programme, ASWS removed each window to an agreed schedule and installed temporary panels to secure the openings. The windows were then taken to ASWS’s workshops where the glazing and the brass fittings were removed and the frames taken back to bare metal.

After thorough assessment, necessary repairs were made with some new sections inserted and a maritime primer coat spray applied to the finished frames. They were then reinstalled on site, with the single glazing traditionally putty glazed before the frames were hand painted to meet listed building requirements.

New windows, made up to replace those that had previously been unsympathetically replaced, were fabricated using W20 sections and hot dip galvanised and primed prior to delivery to site. Fittings to all the windows were overhauled and polished before being reinstalled.

Matthew Cox, commercial director, Ash Contracting, comments: “Overhauling the windows was a substantial element of the project so we had to trust in the specialist knowledge of ASWS. They were very responsive and worked closely with us and the architect, meeting every date in what was a challenging programme while reacting to some quite late changes in terms of a requirement to fit restrictors onto the ground floor windows. There was very little snagging.”

David Loxton, of architects Loxton & Associates, comments: “ASWS were involved from beginning to end and they were exceptionally helpful, working assiduously right the way through the project. We were very pleased with their proactive approach. From my point of view they have done remarkably well and came up with the goods; I'm very happy with the result and would certainly go back to them.”