Rodić Davidson Architects

Knightsbridge Site Progress #4


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The Rodić Davidson team recently visited one of our ongoing projects in Knightsbridge, located near Harrods. Following on from the team’s last visit in mid-2023 – we are pleased to announce that the project is progressing well on site. The building’s concrete frame is now in place up to the fourth-floor and the excavation of the basement is almost complete, with an additional 2 metres remaining to reach the lowest level required.

The retaining steelwork to protect the Queen Anne Revival-style façade is gradually being removed as the new frame is being installed, with strict movement monitoring in place to ensure that the historic façade maintains its original position. The completed building will provide seven luxury, contemporary apartments of varying sizes behind the part-retained façade, arranged around a striking internal lightwell. The lightwell is a major feature of the apartments, not only providing light and views deep into the plan but also showcasing a bespoke sculpture rising up through all of the floors.

The technical specification for the proposed lightwell provided a complex design challenge, as the concept called for a glazing solution that would allow long through views across the lateral flats, whilst at the same time satisfying a planning requirement restricting mutual overlooking between the separate apartments.

A number of possible design solutions were considered during the testing phase. These included: vision control film applied to the glazing, horizontal baffles at floor level, large horizontal louvers mounted on the outside of the glass, a combination of horizontal and vertical louvers mounted on the outside of the glass, micro louvers encapsulated within the glass, and micro louvers encapsulated within the cavity of the double-glazing units.

The desired solution not only had to satisfy all of the technical and visual requirements set out in our brief, but also allow for ease of cleaning and maintenance of the glazing over its lifespan. Many studies were carried out on these various options but were all found to be unsatisfactory in one way or another. A serendipitous discovery led us down the path of investigating the optical qualities commonly found in glass paperweights, as these would likely satisfy the technical requirements of what we were trying to achieve.

Working in collaboration with our glazing consultant, it was proposed that a system of 3D laser engraved louvers within the window glass could be the potential solution to meet our requirements. This is a similar fabrication process that is used to laser engrave paperweights but is not commonly used for an application of this scale – so it was an innovative approach. Small samples were initially made to test the concept, at which point we believed that this could satisfy our brief for the lightwell, balancing the aesthetic standards we required, whilst being technically proficient as a screening method to ensure privacy among occupants of each apartment.

The next stage was to look at the size and positioning of the louvers and the thickness of glass to ensure that they would provide the necessary screening from all points around the lightwell, with many CAD ray diagrams being produced to test this. Four possible options were proposed, and larger samples were subsequently commissioned. Another phase of testing ensued, narrowing the options down again to two final versions, with additional CAD work required. Full size sample panels have now been commissioned, each standing at 2.6 metres tall.

When adequately lit, the engraved louvers will provide spectacular results, and we are looking into how we can best maximise this feature through discussion with our lighting consultants.

The project is due to be completed in 2025.


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