The Chiltern Firehouse
Fine Iron were approached by Knight Harwood and Archer Humphreys Architects in July 2019 regarding an exciting project for the luxury five-star Chiltern Firehouse hotel in Marylebone. The client wished to create a traditional style column cloister along with a bellman’s canopy in the same style to replace an existing canopy. The aim to provide a sheltered entrance with adjoining walkway to follow the existing wall line around the beautiful courtyard, including a curved wall leading to the entrance door.
The brief was for a traditional Victorian style slim-line cast column design with scallop edged glazed roof in keeping with the architecture of the Firehouse which was originally built in 1889.
Design and Manufacture
Fine Iron worked closely with the project Architects (Archer Humphreys) and main contractor, Knight Harwood to get a clear understanding of the client’s aspirations. The input of our structural engineer was integral throughout the process to ensure the structure would stand the test of time both structurally as well as aesthetically.
The slim fluted, octagonal cast columns were based on the columns in the Crystal Palace by Joseph Paxton. We liaised with our pattern maker to ensure the detail and dimensions were exactly as required prior to the columns being cast.
A key design feature were the fixing plates between the cast iron columns and the T beams for the attachment of the roof and refining the design of the custom glazing bar roof to look exactly as the architects intended.
The brief originally included for a heritage style pre-manufactured glazing bar system but due to pitch limitations and the shape of the walkway, this proved unsuitable. Fine Iron glazing bars are all handmade in the traditional, time-honoured way and are therefore able to be manufactured to suit almost any shape or pitch of roof.
‘T’ beams provided both support for the glazing bars and lateral restraint for the columns. These were not available in suitable sizes ‘off-the-shelf’ so ‘I’ beams were cut down and notched out to enable them to fit over and between the columns perfectly. These also had to be rolled to precisely follow the curved wall by the main entrance door. Bespoke brackets were made to connect the custom glazing bars to the ‘T’ beams.
Both the height of the columns and the direction of roof pitch were altered during the manufacture process in response to the evolving brief of the client. We appreciate that many factors can influence a project and we aim to be as flexible as possible in order to accommodate any changes as necessary.
Lastly, bespoke hooks were made for attaching hanging baskets to provide the perfect finishing touch.
Completion and final result
All of the ironwork was shotblasted and primed prior to being finished with our high-quality paint system in sateen black – typical for traditional Victorian ironwork. All of the ironwork was inspected a final time prior to careful packing and delivery where it was erected by the main contractors Knight Harwood on site and the glazing was carried out by Apiire Construction Ltd.
The final result is an exclusive Bellman’s Canopy with adjoining Cloister made using both traditional and modern manufacturing processes to create structures befitting of the Architectural style of the prestigious building to which they belong, providing shelter for guests for many years to come!
Graham Roberts, the Director of Special Works at Knight Harwood had this to say:-
‘Our client wanted an elegant solution to create a glazed canopy that suited the historic nature of the Chiltern firehouse. After scouring the market for suitable ironwork contractor’s we found Fine Iron.
From the outset we formed a strong relationship and felt comfortable that they understood the brief. Finding bespoke cast iron columns and sleek glazing systems were no problem to the Fine Iron team led by Lee Stephens.
The structural design was easily resolved and the fabrication of the steel off site made the on site installation a dream.
We were delighted with the service from the Fine Iron team and would not hesitate to work with them again.
Client: Knight Harwood