University of London

SEH Commercial, the property improvement expert, is part-way through an installation of bespoke secondary double glazing (SDG) units in the University of London’s Grade 2* listed Senate House as part of a major refurbishment project.

Senate House, when it opened in 1936, was designed as the administrative headquarters of the University, one of the oldest, largest and most diverse in the UK. Today the building, designed by Charles Holden, houses a number of the University’s Central Academic Bodies and Activities including the office of the Vice-Chancellor, the University of London Computer Centre, the School of Advanced Study and Senate House Library, with a collection of over 2 million items.

Senate House, which consists of a central tower and two adjoining wings, is being refurbished, rewired and restored to create a building fit for purpose in the 21st century. As it was not possible to change the existing Crittal Window designed fenestration, SDG – an independent frame located internally from the main window with an air gap between the two to provide the insulation zone – was the only possible solution. However, the task was made more difficult as the listed-building status required that any secondary glazing was not visible from outside.

SEH Commercial’s technical team, after surveying the site, set to work on producing an appropriate design. Working with supplier Arc Aluminium’s EcoFit aluminium product, SEH Commercial created a bespoke prototype which was installed at Senate House for acceptance. Once approved, SEH Commercial scheduled a programme of works to install SDG throughout to ensure minimal disruption to the building’s occupants.

Mick Kyprianou, contract manager for SEH Commercial, explains some of the task: “A large proportion of the building consists of library space. This poses obvious challenges in terms of noise and, with many of them having split-level galleries with tall runs of glazing, we had to maintain the Company’s strict health and safety criteria to protect our installers and users of the libraries.”

SEH Commercial designed a schedule of weekend work and began the installation of horizontal sliding secondary glazing and vertical sliding windows throughout the building with three teams of installers. The first phase was completed, with no complaints, in just less than five months.

Duncan Clough is the University of London’s senior project manager and responsible for overseeing the refurbishment works on the building: “We had over 700 windows included in the South Block, first phase of the project. From start to finish the SEH Commercial team has been extremely professional. The team leader has managed the installers and schedules well. The improvements on the noise levels are really noticeable and the completed block is noticeably warmer.”


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