SWA MEMBERS SEE ‘BELGIUM DOORS’ MAKING A COMEBACK
As in the fashion world, architecture tends to be cyclical with UK designers having revisited everything over the years from Tudor beams to vertical tile hanging. Steel windows, for their part, have remained an enduring element to both domestic and commercial buildings – favoured for their slim sight-lines combined with rugged performance – though they too are subject to trends in styles and application.
Most recently members of the Steel Window Association have been reporting a resurgence in the popularity of steel framed entrance screens and partitions: normally featuring a pair of double doors flanked by fixed lights, and also referred to as Belgium Doors.
These are most commonly installed as the outer door to a porch area, offering excellent weather protection while admitting the maximum amount of natural light.
While these screen assemblies are revisiting a long established arrangement of steel sections, the availability of modern systems and enhanced glazing options, means that contemporary installations can significantly outperform those reference project that provide inspiration to today’s customers and their consultants.
Darren Lloyd of SWA member Govette Windows reports: “Both ourselves and a number of other association members have been asked to quote on these types of screens – for both interior and exterior use – over the last couple of years; and it seems they are really starting to make a comeback. This has applied to both new build and refurbishment projects.
“The Belgium Doorset as some people term it typically contains a pair of side hung opening doors together with side-lights forming a larger run; and the design style is to have two sets of horizontal bars running right the way across and producing equal pane sizes.
“They are proving popular with customers who might previously have purchased timber or aluminium bi-folding doors. We can though, compete on both price and performance, with the steel option offering far better security and enhanced light transmission.”
One recent installation carried out by Govette Windows was for a private client refurbishing a large terraced property in Hammersmith, west London. Finished in a black polyester paint coating, they were supplied to make a strong visual statement within elevations that otherwise featured timber fenestration.
Television’s Poirot series featuring Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective has been responsible for raising the profile of the Art Deco movement and, in particular, steel windows due to its use of 1930s buildings for locations. It seems very possible that Belgium Doors could be writing their own chapter into the story.