Hundreds of military veterans at the iconic Royal Hospital Chelsea are now living in more comfortable conditions, thanks to a team of Midlands-based glazing experts.
The experts at Storm Windows, based in Halesowen, were called in by architects who had the task of improving the accommodation block, without damaging the appearance or heritage of the Grade I and II listed building, that dates back to 1682.
As part of the refurbishment, they had to find ways of making the windows draught-proof and noise-proof, without changing their appearance.
Storm’s technical director Mitchell Reece, said: “It was a big challenge, but one the team was happy to take on.
“We already have a good reputation for fitting secondary glazing to historic or listed buildings with great success. So even though this was on such a large scale and such an iconic building, we knew we would be able to help.
“We were called in to help by Peregrine Bryant Architects back in 2010. They had to find a way of making the dormitories warmer and quieter, without detracting from the look of the building and the original windows.
“It was a dilemma and a long time was spent looking at how the windows could be improved, without damaging their appearance or character in any way.”
He added: “Initial designs were rejected and new designs had to go through rigorous testing and numerous stages of approval until the final go-ahead was given.
“One of the problems was that the English Heritage experts were not happy that if you looked up at the first-floor windows, a reflection could be seen in the glass. We did some research and found reflection-free glass manufactured in Germany, which was imported specially for the project.
“The new unit design also allowed for the windows to be fully opened, which wasn’t possible before. The design also had better ventilation and was spring adapted, so was more balanced and easier to control. The final aluminium-framed units were made to measure and colour-matched to be as unobtrusive as possible.”
The hospital was founded in 1682, when King Charles II decided he wanted to create a facility to look after soldiers returning from war. Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design and build the hospital and the first residents moved in in 1692. Today, it is home to some 300 Chelsea Pensioners.
The refurbishment, which began after a £13 million fundraising appeal was launched, included improvements to the Long Ward dormitories, giving residents their own bedroom, study space and en-suite shower room facilities.
Feedback so far has been positive with residents saying the dormitories are warmer and more comfortable.
A spokesperson for Peregrine Bryant Architects said: “Storm Windows have been providing Peregrine Bryant Architects with their tailored service for several years on a variety of projects. We have always worked successfully together to achieve the best solution for the project, sometimes finding alternative and ingenuous solution to meet our clients’ requirements.”
Work was held up during the pandemic but is now scheduled to be completed by December.
For more details about Storm’s work, visit https://stormwindows.co.uk/