The Lancasters - London


Country: United Kingdom
Type: Appartments
Year: 2011
Architect: Nilsson of London
Category: Roofing

Residential terrace refurbishment involving retention of external shell whilst interiors were completely removed and replaced. Specification required performance and appearance to match original top of the range materials.


The super-prime London apartment market is especially healthy driven mainly by the trend for transforming landmark buildings into luxury apartments. One such is the Lancasters, a high profile luxury development of 77 high end apartments. The refurbishment of these grand architectural buildings required significant financial outlay on behalf of the property developer as well a considerable commitment to preserving the architectural integrity of the iconic buildings. Overlooking Hyde Park, the Lancasters features the longest, listed façade in Europe and was originally built as ambassadorial residences which were then later converted into a hotel. Over the years, the various conversion works had stripped the interior of many original features and a key objective for the revival has been completely to over-haul the interior and preserve the original architecture of the façade and building envelope.

Consisting of a blend of new build and refurbishment, a major task was to completely strip the interior of the building and carry out a structural over haul and redesign. While this was undertaken the original brick and stucco facade was retained in place by a temporary steel frame, until a new concrete frame was installed in its place. As part of the project, a complete roof refurbishment was carried out.

Reroofing had to work within the planning controls for listed buildings in a conservation area. Although the roof was not listed in the same way as the façade, planning permission for the development was granted on the assumption that there would be no material alteration to the external appearance of the building, including the roof. As the original roof enhanced the character of the building it was important to preserve this and ensure the new covering played a positive contribution to the overall appearance of the building.

In common with many in Central London, the original roof covering was blue/grey Welsh natural slate. Until the 1980’s, slates used on British buildings were from a British quarry, meaning that there is a ‘type’ of roofing material particular to a location. The quality and availability of Welsh slate ensured that its reputation spread further than its immediate vicinity and it can be found on buildings the length and breadth of the country. The ability to be split into strong, thin, flat slates into formats as large as 24”x12” meant that blue grey Welsh slate, particularly from the Ffestiniog (Port Madog) quarries, were especially popular in Greater London. As such, it has earned an excellent reputation amongst the building and architectural community. However in more recent times the cessation of activity at the Ffestiniog quarry has prompted the search for an alternative source, complete with similar qualities of colour, texture and workability. The roofing contractor for the Lancasters project, Richardson Roofing, had suggested Glendyne to project architect, Nilsson of London, as the perfect substitute for Welsh. The company had been impressed Glendyne’s strength, consistency, workability and furthermore, in view of its prominent location, its blue/grey colour proved a good match for the original Welsh natural slates. As Andy North of Richardson Roofing commented: ”Glendyne is a high quality slate that combines first-class performance and authenticity, to make it the ideal choice for specifiers and roofers working in the demanding UK new-build and roofing restoration market.”

The Lancasters was a huge scale project and the new roof was a difficult task for even the most skilled roofer. There were a substantial number of chimney abutments, roof hatches, smoke vents, and penetrations through the slated roof, all of which required the use of slate and half’s and on some occasion double slates. Cembrit were able to satisfy all the demanding project requirements with their Glendyne natural slate. All the Glendyne slates for The Lancasters were pre-holed and fixed with copper nails. Lead soakers, flashings, hip cappings and gutters were used along with lead cladding on 138nr dormer windows.