A member of the Steel Window Association which specialises in the restoration of old metal windows has successfully completed a phased, five-year involvement with the refurbishment of an East London landmark.

Hackney Town Hall is a Grade II, art-deco style building and one of the capital’s most recognisable municipal properties, whose painstaking repair and modernisation has taken nearly a decade since planning permission and listed building consent were obtained.

The design and build project has been carried out by Geoffrey Osborne Ltd with Hawkins Brown being the architectural practice involved.  Croydon-based Associated Steel Window Services (ASWS) was the specialist sub-contractor tasked with removing, repairing and reinstating the 80-year old Universal Suite section windows, as well as producing new W20 doorsets for new function areas.

The Hackney Town Hall was completed in 1937, with the large multi-section steel windows having been fitted directly into the stone facades leaving them very vulnerable to weathering and corrosion. While many of the frames measured 800 x 1800mm, those bringing light to the Council Chamber itself were up to five metres in height with complex arched heads.

Working closely with Geoffrey Osborne’s site management team on each phase of the work, ASWS removed the frames to its Croydon workshops, where they were shot-blasted and – where necessary – bespoke steel sections were introduced to match any parts of the Universal Suite sections that were beyond repair. A primer coat was factory applied while, remarkably, all of the old ironmongery was saved and refitted before the frames were returned to the site.

Once reinstalled, the frames received two hand painted undercoats and two top coats before slim-line glazing units were fitted to help improve the building’s energy efficiency. These featured a 6.4 mm laminated inner pane, with a 6mm gas filled cavity and a 4mm toughened outer pane while the old style putty lines were reproduced using mastic pointing.

The scope of ASWS’s involvement also saw the company fabricate a dozen double glazed doorsets using W20 steel sections. These have been installed in the formerly redundant internal light-wells to the building which have been reconfigured and opened up to create marriage suites or event spaces.

The Project Manager for Geoffrey Osborne, Matthew Coleman, commented: “Given the very large number of windows to be restored, over a long period of time, getting the right contractor to carry out the work was fundamental to the success of the refurbishment project overall. ASWS is not only a specialist in such work, but possibly the only company at that time which was able to install a double glazed unit into that profile. It was a strong selling point for them and we were happy with the service they provided throughout the project.”

Now fully restored and sensitively modernised to meet contemporary building requirements, including sustainability standards, Hackney Town Hall has gained a Civic Trust Award 2018.

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