A new lease of life for the Old War Office

Architect - EPR, Main Contractor - Ardmore

We were chosen to bring our expertise in bespoke secondary glazing to the former Old War Office in Whitehall, London. This magnificent Grade II* listed building, now known as The OWO, is London’s new luxury destination. It features Raffles London at The OWO, a collection of 9 restaurants and 3 bars, and The OWO Residences by Raffles. Selectaglaze treated a huge number of openings – 609 in total – and created a large piece of secondary glazing history too. Completed in 1906, The OWO has a long and storied past. Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming and TE Lawrence once walked the 2.5 miles of corridors within this beautiful Baroque-style landmark. It witnessed two World Wars, the Suez crisis and the Cold War. But it had become one of Whitehall’s sleeping giants. Its imposing Edwardian façades and spectacular interiors deserved greater things. So when plans were announced for Raffles London at The OWO, alongside The OWO Residences by Raffles, consisting of 85 private residences, we were proud to be part of the transformation.

Trusted partners, skilled craftspeople

This tremendous renovation project involved extensive excavations, foundations and remodelling. Then, hundreds of skilled craftspeople undertook a true labour of love, restoring period features, including hand-laid mosaic floors, rich oak panelling, magnificent chandeliers and the dramatic marble staircase. Our brief was to design and install sympathetic, unobtrusive secondary glazing. In contrast to all the wonderful, intricate craftsmanship on show, we would be judged on the invisibility of our work. We collaborated closely with the main contractor Ardmore and EPR Architects, using our long history of working on heritage retrofits to create solutions that reflect classic Edwardian architecture and at the same time transform the space for modern living. Together, we workshopped potential design options that respected the architectural heritage, complemented the interior and met particularly challenging size requirements. Working closely with EPR we went through numerous design iterations before we created the perfect marriage of classic and modern.

The height of perfection

Our sensitive retrofit solutions respected the original architecture from both the outside and inside. At the same time, they complemented interior designer The Office of Thierry Despont’s vision of timelessly classic rooms and residences, reimagined for modern hospitality. From an acoustic and thermal point of view, we needed to keep out the sounds of Whitehall hustle and bustle – and keep the warmth in. So, most of the glazing treatments included 10.8mm laminated glass, helping to create quieter and warmer sanctuaries. For unparalleled protection, a number of our certified security products were also included. The sheer size of many of these magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows meant that heavy-duty frames were necessary. The majority of these were finished in bronze metallic for a timeless look. Finally, to ensure unspoilt Whitehall views, and to remain truly unobtrusive, vertical sliding systems meticulously matched the sightlines of the marvellous Edwardian originals.

Secondary glazing firsts

At up to 4.25m high, some of the original windows were too big for any of our existing products, and so our design experts created a brand new addition to our product range – Series 91, with a balance configuration to manage up to 90kg of glazing. A feat only a true industry heavyweight could achieve. Because we also set great store by attention to the smallest detail, we were determined to get every little aspect completely perfect. So, for the first time ever, we developed a new smooth lock actuator to operate the concealed multipoint locking system for an even sleeker, neater finish.

Installed with military precision

With such a huge renovation and remodelling project, timing and planning were paramount. Our expert in-house installation team deployed a two-stage process, where the frames were built into the exquisitely finished Ardmore’s joinery. We then fitted the sashes at a later stage, so that everything came together with the utmost precision. A true testament to the benefits of collaboration between our installation team and the Ardmore site managers.

The perfect finish

The final result is simply breathtaking. We’re honoured to have been part of such a magnificent transformation. The OWO is an extra-special addition to our Whitehall heritage buildings project portfolio, sitting alongside the nearby Banqueting House, Corinthia and Great Scotland Yard.

“A genuine partnership, with seamlessly co-ordinated scheduling and sequencing. Old and new blend together perfectly.”

Michael Dunne, Project Manager, Ardmore

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