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Members of the Steel Window Association are accustomed to either restoring or matching unusual pieces of architectural ironmongery when carrying out conservation contracts, but the manufacturer involved with the conversion of a former art deco drinks factory was confronted with a bigger than normal challenge.

Monk Metal Windows was chosen by Costain as its specialist sub-contractor to tackle the replica refurbishment of the listed main façade to the old Ovaltine factory at Kings Langley. The stunning structure was being converted into apartments for Fairview New Homes, with Paul Johnson Architects being the design practice in charge of the project.

Although the painstaking replication of the original windows involved Monk in producing some 80 wide-span composite windows containing fixed and opening lights, formed of W20 sections, the most striking feature to the work involved reproducing the large circular pressed metal rings, representing the letter ‘O’ for Ovaltine, which are fixed to the frames at intervals across the elevation.

Roger Tugwood, the partner in charge for Paul Johnson Architects, recounts: “The conversion of the Ovaltine building involved the retention of the listed glazed façade where steel windows are a key feature. Monk Metal Windows performed well on the job and helped achieve the visual outcome we were seeking.”

The units produced by Monk Metal Windows measure up to five metres by three metres tall and were joined together on site with matching mullion sections. The horizontal pivot casements and fixed lights were all glazed with 4-6-4, soft coat insulating glass units containing argon gas. All the frames were hot dip galvanized and finished in a RAL 8014 brown polyester powder coat.

As part of its overall responsibility under a supply and fix contract, Monk Metal Windows employed a structural engineer to carry out all the calculations covering the dead loads and imposed loads on the fenestration. Following a detailed laser survey of the retained fabric, the whole assembly was secured back to the building’s stone and brickwork masonry using mechanical fixings.