Sustainable homes

The UK has a rich and varied architectural history in evidence throughout the country. Unfortunately, many such buildings are deemed surplus to requirement and allowed to fall into disrepair. But this doesn’t have to be their fate and increasingly architects with vision are adapting them to other uses, many being converted to provide homes with character. The reuse of the building fabric retains its embedded energy and careful specification of materials and services ensures that insulation levels meet modern standards. Windows are an important architectural element of the building and their design must be respected when upgrading performance. Secondary glazing is a recognised method for improving both thermal and acoustic insulation levels and Selectaglaze is the UK’s leading secondary glazing specialist. Three recent projects involving Social Housing demonstrate how some unique buildings have been successfully adapted whilst retaining many of the original features.

Two of the buildings are Victorian, one a former primary school near Bristol and the other a London Police Station. The third was a Thames Dockyard Rum and Tobacco Warehouse dating back to the time of Sir Francis Drake.

Northleaze Primary School - now Gunston House

Built in 1862, the Northleaze CofE Primary School was converted into shared ownership accommodation by Knightstone Housing and is now known as Gunston House. Originally consisting of 2 classrooms and the Master’s house, the new development comprises 5 unique apartments, several with mezzanine open plan bedrooms and all retaining elements of the fixtures and features of the original school.

The handsome windows, much in gothic style, had to be retained but there was also a critical need to improve thermal insulation and meet Building Regulation standards and the local authority’s Conservation Officer agreed to the use of secondary glazing. Selectaglaze produced a range of complementary hinged, fixed and sliding panels incorporating specialist low emissivity glass to minimise heat loss. The secondary glazing has also markedly reduced ambient noise levels and met the requirements of Secured by Design.

Shooters Hill Police Station - now Old Bill Court

Shooters Hill, so named because it was allegedly the site for archery practice in the Middle Ages, at 432 feet is one of the highest points in South East London, with panoramic views across to the City and The Thames. Constructed on the site of an old Gibbet, the former Police Station was built in two stages, spanning the Victorian and Edwardian era and is located at a key point in the Woolwich Common Conservation Area. Following decommission, the redundant locally listed buildings and accompanying land were obtained for conversion and development by the LHA-ASRA Group with resulting permission to provide a total of 35 shared ownership homes, 18 of which are one and two-bed apartments sited within the original Police buildings. The new homes are contemporary in style but great effort was made to ensure they complement the original structures.

The original single glazed windows were retained either through refurbishing or replacing with like-for-like. Selectaglaze then produced a total of 128 secondary glazing units in a number of styles including sliding and hinged to provide improved thermal insulation and protection against the noise of traffic on this busy road.

Royal Naval Dockyards - now Pepys Estate

The Dockyard was officially founded in 1513 by Henry VIII but had been the site of Royal ship repairs since 1420. In the 18th century a Victualling Yard was established alongside, where ships' stores and provisions were assembled. But by 1869 the Dockyard had become outdated and unsuitable to launch ships due to the silting of the Thames so was restricted to ship building and distributing stores to other yards and fleets abroad. It eventually closed in 1869 to become a foreign Cattle Market this, in turn closed in 1913. However, the Victualling Yard remained until 1961 and the site is now occupied by the Pepys Estate (named after the famous 17th century diarist who often visited the Dockyard when he was Clerk to the Navy Board).

Three Grade II listed buildings, the former Naval Administration Office and Rum and Tobacco Warehouse have seen a total of 65 apartments constructed inside their walls, with a mix of housing association social rent and leasehold homes. Because of the buildings listed status work had to be carried out sympathetically and with the approval of English Heritage. Selectaglaze was commissioned by Apollo Property Services Group Ltd. to design systems that carefully matched the traditional sash windows, most of which have arched heads. The resulting installation has improved insulation levels producing the more comfortable and peaceful environment required by the owners and landlord, The Hyde Group.

Although the projects outlined within this article specified secondary glazing to help eliminate unwanted noise and increase energy efficiency, an equally important additional benefit is increased security, which is becoming a major concern to building owners and managers who have a duty of care to those using the premises. Selectaglaze’s systems are accredited to ACPO’s Secured by Design initiative and have been independently tested for attack and blast resistance.

Projects are often “fast track”, requiring close co-operation between client, contractor, specialists and the professional team. Established in 1966 and a Royal Warrant Holder since 2004, Selectaglaze has a wealth of experience working on this basis in buildings up to Grade 1 listed. The company also offers a technical and specification advisory service to ensure the correct interface with other trades. Programmes are particularly important and proactive site surveys, linked to a modern production facility working on “Lean Principles”, ensure projects are delivered on schedule.

Selectaglaze has an extensive range of literature, including test results for noise insulation, energy efficiency and added security, all of which are free upon request from: 01727 837271/email: or via the company’s comprehensive website:

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